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Susan Rice Tapped for Role in Biden Administration

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to the media in New York City, January 26, 2009. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

President-elect Joe Biden announced Thursday that he has tapped Susan Rice, the former national security adviser during the Obama administration, to head the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Rice, who also served as Obama’s UN ambassador, had been in the running to be Biden’s vice president over the summer before Kamala Harris was selected for the role. 

The position does not require Senate confirmation. If Biden had nominated Rice for a different role, she could have faced opposition from Senate Republicans for her part in foreign policy under Obama.

Rice has come under fire for characterizing the 2012 deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, as part of a spontaneous protest taken over by extremists rather than a premeditated terrorist attack. Republicans have also accused her of spying on President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, though declassified records have shown no evidence that she improperly accessed information about him.

In a press release Thursday, Biden’s transition team said that in her new role she will “turbocharge” Biden’s agenda to “build back better.”

“Rice is among our nation’s most senior and experienced government leaders with the skills to harness the power of the federal government to serve the American people,” the release said.

Biden’s team on Thursday also announced it has selected Denis McDonough, who was White House chief of staff for Obama’s second term, to serve as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. McDonough, who will need to be confirmed by the Senate next year, also served as deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the National Security Council.

Other Cabinet picks announced Thursday included Representative Marcia Fudge (D., Ohio) for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Tom Vilsack, for secretary of Agriculture, a role he held under Obama; and Katherine Tai, a top trade lawyer on the House Ways and Means Committee, for U.S. trade representative.

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