Elizabeth Warren Promises Half Her Cabinet Will Be Women

The 2020 candidate's new pledge, part of a plan to clean up the executive branch, comes as Warren seeks to consolidate female voters.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday promised to appoint women or nonbinary people to at least half of the top positions in the executive branch if she wins the presidency.

The pledge comes as Warren, one of the three leading 2020 Democratic candidates in national polling, is seeking to consolidate and rally female voters ahead of crucial early primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. After New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and California Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are the only major female candidates remaining in the presidential primary.

“Our government officials can best serve the American public when they reflect the diversity of the country itself,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her plan to revitalize the executive branch following President Donald Trump’s administration. “The federal government does a dismal job on diversity and inclusion.”

Just four of the 23 members of Trump’s Cabinet – Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Small Business Administration head Jovita Carranza – are women. At its peak, the administration of former President Barack Obama had eight female Cabinet members.

In recent days, Warren has increasingly worked to consolidate female voters, and to combat the idea that nominating a woman would put the Democratic Party in a weaker position to defeat Trump in November. It’s been a major part of her back-and-forth with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over whether Sanders told Warren a woman could not defeat Trump in 2020. (Warren says he did, Sanders says he did not.)

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) takes the stage at a campaign town hall meeting in Grimes, Iowa, U.S., January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) takes the stage at a campaign town hall meeting in Grimes, Iowa, U.S., January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Brian Snyder / Reuters

“Since Donald Trump was elected, women candidates have out-performed men candidates in competitive races,” Warren said during the Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa, last week. “And in 2018, we took back the House; we took back statehouses, because of women candidates and women voters.”

A 2020 rival, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said in October that he would nominate a Cabinet with at least half the members women.

Warren’s promise is just one provision in a broader plan. She also vowed not to hire a single working lobbyist and to implement a stricter ethics plan than either the Obama or Trump administrations. Former corporate lobbyists will only be considered if they have not lobbied for the past six years, and former lobbyists for other groups will be banned if they have lobbied in the past two years. (Warren will also use a broader definition of lobbyist, encompassing “anyone who is hired to influence government.”)

“My administration will adopt the strictest anti-corruption hiring rules of any administration in American history,” Warren wrote. “And that starts by ending the revolving door between big corporations and their lobbyists and government jobs.”

Noting that Trump administration took months to fill key government posts, Warren also promised to announce her Cabinet nominees by Dec. 1, 2020, and her picks for other top positions by Dec. 15. She pledged to fill all key posts in the White House by Inauguration Day.

Warren also said she would be aggressive in rooting out corruption from the Trump era, promising to create a special Justice Department task force to “investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and public integrity laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal and civil violations.”

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