US President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Susan Rice, a former national security adviser with significant foreign policy expertise, for a domestic policy brief, putting an emphasis on managerial experience in his new administration.
A flurry of senior appointments underscored the former US vice president’s commitment to a diverse administration while rewarding longtime loyalists and veterans like himself of President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.
Biden’s selection of Rice, 56, as his top domestic policy adviser and director of his Domestic Policy Council came as a surprise given her extensive background in foreign affairs.
Besides her role as Obama’s national security adviser, she earlier served as his ambassador to the United Nations. A Black woman, she had been a contender to be Biden’s running mate.
A source familiar with Biden’s thinking said the president-elect does not view foreign policy and domestic policy as separate realms, and believes experience in one is relevant to the other.
Due to take office on January 20, Biden felt Rice’s experience operating across federal government agencies would enable her to implement his policy agenda, including plans to rebuild an economy ravaged by the coronavirus, the source said.
Rice had been under consideration for Biden’s secretary of state but she likely would have faced fierce opposition from Republicans in Congress over her role in a controversy over the deadly 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The White House domestic policy post does not require US Senate confirmation. Biden ultimately chose longtime adviser Antony Blinken to head the State Department.
For other positions, Biden selected former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to serve a second tenure as agriculture secretary, Obama White House aide Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs, US Representative Marcia Fudge to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative, his transition team said in a statement.
Biden plans to introduce his latest slate of appointees on Friday in Delaware.