• The lessons learned by the Obama administration seem to guide Biden’s team in some crucial areas.
  • Brookings senior fellow: “It’s just a much more diverse staff in the White House.”

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden isn’t the only member of his administration who remembers how things went during the last Democratic White House.

About three-quarters of its top 100 staff previously worked in President Barack Obama’s administration, according to new analysis that also shows a majority of key staff are women and nearly 40 percent are non-white or Hispanic.

This is despite the fact that Biden insisted his White House is not an extension of Obama.

“This is not Obama’s third term. We are facing a whole different world from the one we faced in the Obama-Biden administration, ”Biden said in his first interview after the November election.

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While past White House experience is not uncommon for aides, the high number of senior officials who served in the last Democratic administration is striking, said Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, senior researcher at the University’s Miller Center. of Virginia who compiled the statistics.

“I think it shows that Biden is really focusing on past experience,” she said, “because if you talk to people who have worked in the White House, they’ll tell you it’s is unlike any job they’ve ever had, that really nothing can prepare you for it, except having worked in the White House before. “

Stark contrast to Trump administration staff

It is also a radical departure from the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump wasted a lot of time in the crucial first days of his presidency, Tenpas said, because he was slow to choose his assistants and because he appointed many people with no government experience.

“Her predilection was for the private sector,” she said. “He really sort of rejected this idea that presidents typically hire from previous administrations. In fact, he showed public contempt for the people (of President George W.) Bush.”

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In contrast, Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain was his main aide when Biden was Obama’s vice president. (Klain was also Vice President Al Gore’s chief of staff during the Clinton administration.)

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The lessons learned by the Obama administration seem to guide Biden’s team in some crucial areas.

Democrats’ belief that there would have been a faster recovery from the Great Recession had there been a bigger stimulus package in 2009 influenced the adoption in March of their coronavirus relief plan of 1, $ 9 trillion.

And, as Biden tries to see if he can negotiate a compromise with Republicans on an infrastructure package, White House aides are aware of the months Obama spent seeking elusive Republican support for his overhaul. health care.

Tenpas, an expert on presidential transitions and staffing, focused her research on the 100 key positions in the president’s executive office that were advertised in Biden’s first 100 days.

Notably, he did not hold two high-level positions. Biden is still on the hunt for a direct budget after his top pick Neera Tanden does not have enough support for Senate confirmation. (She was later appointed senior advisor to the president.)

Biden also did not appoint an administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Diversity at the White House

Among the first 100 positions filled in the first 100 days, Tenpas found:

  • 78 have a graduate degree.
  • 77 worked in a previous administration and 74 in the Obama administration.
  • 62 worked on the Biden campaign or the transition.
  • 61 are white; 15 are black; 12 are Asian and 11 Hispanic.
  • 57 are women; 43 are male.

The average age is 46 years old.

Tenpas does not have a direct comparison of similar statistics for past administrations. But studies she’s done on smaller groups of senior assistants for former presidents indicate that Biden’s team stands out for the proportion of women in top positions and for racial diversity.

“It’s just a much more diverse staff in the White House who seem to value racial and ethnic diversity as well as put women in roles,” she said. “This is further proof that (Biden) is fulfilling this (campaign) commitment to create a more diverse administration.”