US Foreign Policy Veteran Susan Rice Tapped for Biden Domestic Policy Role

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden tapped Susan Rice, a former national security adviser with significant foreign policy expertise, for a domestic policy brief on Thursday, putting an emphasis on managerial experience in his new administration.

A flurry of senior appointments underscored the former U.S. 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 Jan. 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 U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The White House domestic policy post does not require U.S. 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, U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, his transition team said in a statement.


Biden plans to introduce his latest slate of appointees on Friday in Delaware.

Transition spokesman Sean Savett said in a statement the picks were “forward-thinking, crisis-tested and experienced” and “ready to quickly use the levers of government to make meaningful differences in the lives of Americans and help govern on day one.”

McDonough, 51, was a longtime national security aide to Obama prior to his stint as chief of staff during Obama’s second term, where he worked closely with Biden.

But he has never served in the armed forces, and his selection caught some advocates for veterans off guard.

Joe Chenelly, executive director of American Veterans, which has more than 250,000 members and is known as AMVETS, said people from Biden’s office reached out to him on Thursday to say that McDonough understands how the VA operates.

“They keep using the term ‘pulling the levers of government,'” Chenelly said, saying he was hopeful McDonough could improve coordination between the VA and the rest of the administration.

Vilsack, 69, served as USDA secretary under Obama for eight years and as Iowa governor from 1999 to 2007. He is seen by establishment Democrats as a sound choice, largely because of his moderate politics and relationships with large-scale farmers.

His congressional confirmation is expected to face headwinds from progressive Democrats. Critics argue Vilsack is cozy with corporate agribusiness and top lobbying groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, where he is currently the chief executive officer. He had been a staunch early backer of Biden’s presidential bid.

Fudge, 68, is a congresswoman from Cleveland who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2008. If confirmed, she would be the second Black woman to lead HUD, which focuses on federal policy surrounding housing. She is a close ally of Representative James Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden in February served as a turning point in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Tai, 45, a Chinese American who serves as the chief trade lawyer on the House Ways and Means Committee, played a key role in negotiating stronger labor provisions with the Trump administration in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal. She would be the first woman of color to serve as trade representative.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis in Wilmington and Susan Heavey, Jason Lange and James Oliphant in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Alistair Bell and Howard Goller)


  1. As an advisor, her advice will be based on her experience and her experience is, so far, based on foreign issues. She will just have to wing it a bit on domestic issues.

    But, hey, maybe she likes to learn on the job.

  2. Fudge’s experience is membership on the House Ag Committee. Color me unimpressed. But there is good news for Derrick Johnson. Derrick can ignore any advice Joe Biden gives him as to who should hold what leadership positions in the NAACP.

    I also perceive that you have a misunderstanding of adviser of Domestic Policy. The advice is not how to enact HER domestic policy, but how to enact the POTUS Biden’s domestic policy. But if you wished to know Susan Rice’s views on policy, they were very clear in her book “Tough Love.” She has written other books on poverty and weak or broken governments—and after 4 yrs of Trump, a weakened government IS a domestic concern. With a poverty rate of 10.5% in 2019, poverty is also an issue right here in America.

  3. I apologize for a bit of a first glib replay.

    Susan Rice has foreign policy experience, she has NO domestic policy experience. We know NOTHING about what her domestic policy path will be and SHE probably hasvno idea either. Joke Biden put Fudge into a department contrary to her stated desire of going to USDA where she HAS experience.

  4. General, the position of domestic policy does not require Senate confirmation. If Biden appoints her, Rice is in the post.
    And yes, I am well aware the Un-Democratic Party, formally known as the Republican Party, does not consider facts in their conclusions and beliefs. That is not new, it is the major reason I left the party in 2003.

  5. Phyllis, it doesn’t matter what the truth is. You know that. The Republicans ran how many Benganzi investigations while knowing they were all phony? The American Fascists will use Rice as a punchingbag for as long as she is connected to Biden’s administration, IF she gets approved. McConnell will probably allow it just to MAKE her the punchingbag.

  6. WHAT is Susan Rice’s baggage, General? General Petreus testified under oath that he signed off on the information given to Susan Rice to release on the Sunday shows. Simply still believing the conspiracy does not make it credible.

    “Joe can’t even remember yesterday!” (ed) Upon WHAT are you basing your conclusion?? Joe Biden appeared perfectly cognizant during the debates and every press briefing that has been held. On the other hand, we have the current POTUS claiming that he won the election despite ALL 50 states and D.C. certifying results that indicate JOE BIDEN WON 306 electoral votes and 51.4% of the popular vote. Yes, Trump did win the most votes of any incumbent POTUS—BUT his vote total was 6.7 million LESS than his challenger and 73 FEWER electoral college votes. Trump won a participation trophy and a ride out of D.C. on Jan 20, 2021.—if he elects to go sooner, no one will complain.

  7. Maybe Bengazi was part of the US in 2012 but she and Joe are the only ones that know that. Oh wait, Joe can’t even remember yesterday!

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