Biden chooses Susan Rice as top domestic policy adviser

US President-elect Joe Biden chose Susan Rice, who was national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, on Thursday to lead the White House's domestic policy council as part of a flurry of appointments to his developing administration.

Biden also chose 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.

The choice of Rice as Biden's top domestic policy adviser came as somewhat of a surprise given her extensive background in foreign policy. Besides her role as Obama's national security adviser, she earlier served as his ambassador to the United Nations. She was a contender earlier this year to be Biden's running mate.

Vilsack served as USDA secretary under Obama for eight years and as Iowa governor from 1999 to 2007 and is seen by establishment Democrats as a sound choice, largely because of his moderate politics and longstanding relationships with large-scale farmers. But 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 US Dairy Export Council, where he is currently the chief executive officer. He had been a staunch early backer of Biden's presidential bid.

Rice has a long friendship with Biden, who values personal relationships, and his wife Jill, and has written that the former vice president was her "favorite unannounced visitor." The domestic role is an unexpected position for Rice, but many expected her to find a position in Biden's cabinet because of her close ties to the President-elect, as well as her experience.

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