Biden emphasizes foreign policy team will 'lead the world, not retreat'

Biden urges GOP Senate to give foreign policy nominees a 'prompt hearing'

President-elect Joe Biden says that his newly named foreign policy and national security team will keep the nation "safe and secure" and will show that "America is back."

Biden, as he formally unveiled on Tuesday his nominees for secretary of state, secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, national security adviser and special presidential envoy for climate, also indirectly took aim at President Trump's governing style and America-centric foreign policy. The president-elect emphasized that his advisers will "tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know" and are "ready to lead the world, not retreat from it."

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Pointing to what may be a challenging road to confirmation for his nominees in a Senate that may still be controlled by the Republicans in January, Biden said, "I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing and that we can work across the aisle in good faith to move forward for the country. Let’s begin that work to heal and unite America."

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduce their nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduce their nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Biden's ceremony formally unveiling his first Cabinet nominees came a couple of hours after Pennsylvania and Nevada – two battleground states where Biden narrowly edged out Trump – certified their election results – handing the president more setbacks in his attempts to reverse the election results that he claims are riddled with fraud. The former vice president noted that “as more states certify the results of this election, there’s progress to wrap up our victory.”

And pointing to Monday night’s move by the federal government’s General Services Administration to formally greenlight the start of the transition process between the outgoing Trump administration and the incoming Biden team, the president-elect said “I’m pleased to have received the ascertainment from the GSA, to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power, so our teams can prepare to meet the challenges at hand, to control the pandemic, to build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American.”

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Biden, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, formally introduced Antony Blinken as his nominee for secretary of state, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, and John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate. The ceremony took place in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Del.

In a not-too-subtle jab at Trump’s tendency to butt heads with longstanding American allies, Biden noted that his team will show that America’s ready to once again “sit at the head of the table. Ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies. Ready to stand up for our values.”

Biden said that in his roughly 18-20 calls with world leaders since this month’s election, “I’ve been struck by how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.”

While Biden touted his nominees “unmatched experience and accomplishments,” he stressed that “they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking unchanged habits.

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And he highlighted that “we’re going to have the first woman lead the intelligence community, the first Latino, an immigrant, to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and ground breaking diplomat at the United Nations. We’re going to have a principal on the National Security Council who’s full time job is to fight climate change. For the first time ever that will occur.”

Harris, in her comments, also spotlighted that “our challenge here is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world, and we are ready for that work."

The vice president-elect added that “we will need to re-assemble and renew America's alliances, rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation's interests, and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all.”