President Biden so far has not named a single Republican to his Cabinet and has stacked his administration with liberal activists, despite a campaign for the White House on a pledge to restore unity and bipartisanship in Washington.
It’s also a break with a White House tradition that made his predecessors more bipartisan in filling top administration jobs. Each of the past three presidents had members of the opposing party in either high-ranking White House posts or Cabinet positions.
Former President Donald Trump named two Democrats, Gary Cohn and Peter Navarro, to his White House staff upon taking office. Mr. Trump also appointed Steve Mnuchin, a onetime Democrat turned Republican, as his Treasury secretary. Mr. Mnuchin’s appointment in 2017 came just months after he donated to Kamala Harris’ campaign for U.S Senate.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush also had at least one or two bipartisan Cabinet members.
For Mr. Bush, it was Norman Mineta, a onetime Democratic congressman from California, as transportation secretary in his first term. Mr. Obama had two well-known Republicans in his first term Cabinet, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, a former GOP congressman from Illinois. In his second term, Mr. Obama named Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as Defense Secretary.
The closest Mr. Biden has come to tapping a member of the opposing party in a top-level post is a long-rumored decision to appoint Cindy McCain, the wife of the late-Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, as an ambassador.
The president’s reluctance to embrace bipartisanship stands in stark contrast to his comments on the campaign trail last year.
“While I’ll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me … That’s the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the nominations.
Mr. Biden continued to forego bipartisanship this week with several nominations for high-level law enforcement and national security posts.
Topping the list was Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, who is best known for his advocacy for racial justice and migrant rights, to serve as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Mr. Magnus first made headlines in 2014 when a photo of him in police uniform holding a Black Lives Matter sign went viral. Since then, he has been a favorite of Democrats for his defense of sanctuary cities and refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities during the Trump era.
The Magnus nomination came on the heels of Mr. Biden’s announcement that he would nominate David Chipman to helm the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mr. Chipman, who previously served as an ATF agent, is best known as one of the nation’s leading gun-control advocates.
He currently serves as a senior policy adviser to Giffords, the gun-control group founded by former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. In that role, Mr. Chipman has pushed for banning assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines.
Neither Mr. Magnus nor Mr. Chipman is likely to receive bipartisan support for confirmation.
Republicans consider Mr. Chipman’s views, in particular, unacceptable for the leader of the agency responsible for regulating firearms.
“David Chipman is a gun control activist who will weaponize the ATF in his mission to take guns from law-abiding citizens,” said Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. “The Senate must protect the Second Amendment and reject his nomination.”
These two nominations were but the latest in a string of overly political appointments.
Republicans also strongly objected to Kristen Clarke, Mr. Biden’s choice to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division. At a confirmation hearing Wednesday, Ms. Clarke back off her previous support for the defund-the-police movement but didn’t convince Republicans she was not anti-police.
Mr. Biden’s choice of Neera Tanden, another Democratic operative and liberal activist, to run the Office of Management and Budget hit opposition for Democrats and Republicans over her abusive tweets at politicians on both sides of the aisle. The nomination was withdrawn.
“Clarke has called for the ‘strategic’ defunding of police and has a background in leading a liberal Washington, D.C. special interest group critical of law enforcement,” a Republican congressional staffer told The Washington Times. “Tanden, on the other hand, was long-standing Democratic operative, without any experience in budgetary issues, yet the White House wanted her to run one of their largest offices.”
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