Biden transition live updates: Biden to talk jobs, meet with county leaders; Obama, Pence seek to boost Ga. Senate candidates

Senior Biden aides Friday defended the diversity of his early administration picks amid concerns being voiced by Black and Latino groups that nominees for marquee positions have so far been largely White.

Several advocacy groups have argued in recent days that Biden’s choices overall have been diverse but that has been less true of those selected for the most high-profile jobs.

“The president-elect certainly understands and hears and welcomes the voices that are pushing him on diversity. That is how we make progress in this country,” Kate Bedingfield, the incoming White House communications director told reporters on a Zoom call. “The groups that are advocating for diverse names are doing their jobs … and he’s doing his. He has thus far put forward historic nominees for a number of these positions.”

Bedingfield added: “I would remind you that we’ve only made eight of 23 Cabinet nominations at this point, so we are still very early in the process, and the president-elect is committed to selecting the most qualified individuals for each job, people who are going to bring diverse perspectives, who are going to bring diverse life stories to the table. I think he has shown that in the nominees he has rolled out thus far, and he’s certainly committed to continuing to do that.”

Bedingfield and Jennifer Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, also fielded questions about concerns that have been raised about two of Biden’s picks: Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget: and Heather Boushey as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Tanden has drawn flak from Republican lawmakers for pointed tweets about them during her tenure as the chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Psaki said Biden has only nominated people whom he is convinced can do the job and noted that Tanden is “the first woman of color who is nominated to serve in that position.”

“She brings a fresh perspective to this role,” Psaki said.

The Biden aides also downplayed allegations about Boushey’s management skills and treatment of subordinates recently aired by a former colleague.

“Heather Boushey is a renowned progressive economist, and many people have spoken out in support of her nomination,” Psaki said, noting that the think tank that Boushey runs, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has taken issue with the former colleague’s characterizations.

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