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Biden decides on pick for secretary of State

The Hill logo The Hill 11/21/2020 Tal Axelrod
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Biden decides on pick for secretary of State © Getty Images Biden decides on pick for secretary of State

Joe Biden has decided on his pick for secretary of State as the president-elect works to put together a team that can be confirmed by a possibly GOP-controlled Senate.

A source familiar with the process confirmed to The Hill that Biden has made up his mind for who he wants to serve as the nation's top diplomat and that an announcement is expected within the next week.

It was not immediately clear who Biden's nominee would be, but a former Obama administration official confirmed to The Hill that Tony Blinken, a veteran diplomat and longtime Biden ally, has been considered a front-runner for the post.

Blinken has been viewed across Washington as someone who would be highly qualified for the role, given his past tenure as the No. 2 at the State Department as well as his stints on Capitol Hill and in the Obama White House as deputy national security adviser.

A spokesperson for the transition declined to confirm that Biden had picked a State Department nominee. Axios was the first to report that he had made a decision.

Among other people who have been floated to helm the State Department under Biden are Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns and former national security adviser and United Nations ambassador Susan Rice.

Biden has already said he's chose who he will nominate to serve as Treasury secretary, though he also declined to specify who he'll tap to fill that role. The president-elect said this week that person would "be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions."

The president-elect could face a fight with the Senate after his inauguration if Democrats do not win two Georgia Senate runoffs in January, and with it the Senate majority, given that he'd essentially have to get sign off from Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on his Cabinet picks. However, GOP senators have indicated that they will look to confirm nominees who they don't view as outside the mainstream.

Beyond his Cabinet, Biden has begun staffing his White House with allies and members of the Obama administration, unveiling a new slate of hires Friday, with his transition saying it's putting a premium on hiring diverse people who look "like America."

Amie Parnes and Brett Samuels contributed to this report.

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