Looking at President Biden’s Picks to Run Key Agencies
A president’s cabinet is a crucial aspect of how any administration carries out its policy goals. They serve as the president’s eyes and ears throughout the numerous federal agencies. Four of these agencies—the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Labor (DOL), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Small Business Administration (SBA)—have an outsized impact on ACCA members and how contractors conduct business. Therefore, we have provided brief profiles on who President Biden has picked to head them.
Department of Energy
Pick: Jennifer Granholm
Background: Secretary Granholm served as Attorney General of Michigan from 1999 to 2003 and Governor of the state from 2003 to 2011. As Governor of Michigan, Granholm was a staunch proponent of clean energy. She signed legislation that required 10 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2015 and set a statewide goal of cutting fossil fuels by 45 percent by 2020. She also issued an executive order directing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to seek “all feasible prudent alternatives before approving new coal-fired power plants in Michigan.” The order was eventually overturned in the courts, but nevertheless disrupted plans for new coal-fired powerplants in the state.
What it means: Secretary Granholm looks to build on her legacy as a proponent of renewable resources. President Biden has included electrification and decarbonization as two major planks of his policy agenda, with the aim of reducing emissions and offsetting the effects of climate change. This may result in higher energy costs—especially for those in areas that rely heavily on fossil fuels.
Department of Labor
Pick: Marty Walsh
Background: Secretary Walsh served as a member of the Massachusetts House of
Representatives from 1997 to 2014 and as the Mayor of Boston from 2014 until his appointment as Secretary of Labor. He has an extensive background in labor unions. He first joined Laborers’ Union Local 223 when he was 21 and served as the president of the chapter until he became the mayor of Boston. He also served as the secretary-treasurer and later the head of a union umbrella group in Boston—the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council. Many have cited his close relationship and shared blue-collar, Irish-Catholic identity with President Biden as reasons he was tapped for the position.
What it means: President Biden has stated that he aims to strengthen labor unions and his pick of Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary reflects that. Secretary Walsh is also expected to oversee a bolstering of OSHA, especially as it pertains to the development of a national COVID-19 workplace safety standard.
Environmental Protection Agency
Pick: Michael Regan
Background: Administrator Regan has over 20 years of experience as an environmental regulator. Before being chosen to head the EPA, Regan was the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, a post he held from 2017 to 2020. He also began his career at the EPA in the 90’s as an air quality specialist under President Clinton. As the chief environmental official in North Carolina, Regan’s crowning accomplishments include overseeing the largest coal ash cleanup in the country as well as taking decisive action to prevent PFAS chemical contamination in the Cape Fear River.
What it means: Administrator Regan will likely take a hard line against pollution in all forms. This may result in additional regulations and increased enforcement from EPA.
Small Business Administration
Pick: Isabel Guzman
Background: Before assuming her position as the head of SBA, Administrator Guzman was the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in California, a position she had held since April 2019. She also served under the Obama Administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Administrator at SBA from 2014 to 2017, meaning that she is no stranger to the agency and how it operates. Guzman has also worked in the private sector, serving as an advisor and advocate for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups. Overall, she boasts 20 years of experience helping small businesses navigate the federal government and creating policies and programs to help advance entrepreneurship and innovation.
What it means: Administrator Guzman has her work cut out for her, just as her predecessor did. She is tasked with helping America’s small business community along the pathway to recovery from the economic recession that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. At an event introducing Guzman as his choice to head SBA, President Biden stated, “…as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery.”
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