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Samantha Power (left) sits at the United Nations in 2014 with National Security adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama. Photo: Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development, which would place a high-profile figure atop foreign aid and coronavirus relief efforts, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Installing Power — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about genocide — would signal the Biden administration plans to revitalize foreign assistance and use it as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals.

Power was a prominent member of President Obama's cabinet and recently wrote a Foreign Affairs article about the president-elect headlined: "The Can-Do Power: America’s Advantage and Biden’s Chance."

  • Biden hasn’t made a final decision on the position, and there could be other candidates — including those who were passed over for Cabinet positions — in the mix.

Power was featured in "The Final Year," a documentary about Obama's foreign policy team, and previously worked as a journalist covering conflict in the Balkans.

  • Among the most pressing issues she would face would be rejoining the World Health Organization and managing America’s global response to COVID-19.
  • “The Trump administration’s response to the most urgent problem in the world today — the coronavirus pandemic — has been worse than that of any other nation,” Power wrote in the Foreign Affairs piece.

The big picture: Power, currently a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has been a leading advocate for using military force, when justified, to achieve humanitarian goals.

  • USAID is an independent government agency but works in tandem with the State Department. The administrator's job requires Senate confirmation, but isn’t part of the Cabinet.
  • The agency has been in the news lately because of the activities of its Trump appointees.
  • Some Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have advocated elevating it to a Cabinet-level position.
  • Other potential contenders include Ertharin Cousin, a former executive director of the UN World Food Program, according to Foreign Policy. 
  • A Biden transition official declined to comment.

Flashback: In spring 2011, Power argued for a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Moammar Gadhafi from his stated goal of slaughtering some of his own people.

  • Then-Vice President Biden opposed the no-fly zone, but Obama eventually supported one, a move that led to the deterioration of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Between the lines: Power’s husband, Cass Sunstein, who ran the highly influential Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in Obama’s first term, could return to government, as well.

Editor's note: Adds detail about Power's journalism career and omits reference to Cameroon incident.

Go deeper

GOP research firm aims to hobble Biden nominees

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-aligned opposition research group America Rising is doing all it can to prevent President Biden from seating his top Cabinet picks.

Why it matters: After former President Trump inhibited the transition, Biden is hoping the Republican minority in Congress will cooperate with getting his team in place. Biden hadn't even been sworn in when America Rising began blasting opposition research to reporters targeting Janet Yellen and Alejandro Mayorkas.

Jan 21, 2021 - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Obama, Bush and Clinton to Biden: "Your success is our country's success"

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on Wednesday. Photo: Handout/Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images d

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton wished President Biden well and spoke of coming together in a "peaceful transition of power" in a video organized by the inaugural committee Wednesday.

What they're saying: Obama noted "we can have a fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other's common humanity and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Clinton said Biden had spoken form them in his unifying address, "now you will lead for us and we're ready to march with you." Bush added, "Your success is our country's success."