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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President-elect Biden will name former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to head the Domestic Policy Council, the Biden transition team confirmed Thursday — a significant change from her previous roles that would put her in charge of major portions of his “Build Back Better” plan.

Between the lines: Rice was previously considered for Cabinet positions including Secretary of State, but she would have faced steep confirmation odds given her history of clashes with some GOP senators and as a flashpoint over Benghazi. The DPC role does not require Senate confirmation.

  • She'll coordinate closely with the president-elect’s top national security and economic advisers, Jake Sullivan and Brian Deese.
  • This reflects Biden’s desire for more interconnected management of foreign, economic and domestic policy.

Background: Rice, 56, a Black woman and former UN ambassador, is a heavy-hitter and trusted friend whom Biden considered for his running mate as well as Cabinet posts. She's being brought in to elevate the DPC’s stature along with an expansion of staff and resources to guide the U.S. through the pandemic and recovery.

  • “She’s not a wallflower; she’s going to speak up when she thinks something needs more attention,” one source tells Axios, adding that Biden “welcomes that.”
  • Movement toward a stronger DPC also took place during the Trump administration.
  • Many presidential advisers over the years have served in multiple administrations. It’s less common to bounce between foreign- and domestic-facing roles, though there have been notable examples, including James Baker and Leon Panetta.

Be smart: While Rice's resume is heavy on foreign policy, diplomacy and national security, her biography is steeped in consideration of domestic issues including civil rights, education and economic and racial equality.

  • Her late mother was known as "the mother of Pell Grants," while her late father was a Federal Reserve governor and economics professor and served in the Tuskegee Airmen. Her grandparents were immigrants and her great-grandfather was a slave.
  • She and Biden have spoken in detail about how her personal and family story has shaped her views of domestic challenges, the sources said.

How it works: In this role, Rice will meet regularly with Biden, sit on the administration’s COVID-19 task force, convene sessions with Cabinet secretaries and formulate and coordinate policies.

  • Health care, immigration and racial equity are expected to top the new administration’s domestic priorities.
  • More broadly, the DPC encompasses agencies' work on education, labor, energy, gun policy, veterans’ affairs, housing, transportation, agriculture, the environment, conservation, opioid addiction, civil rights, voting rights and democratic governance.

What we're watching: Over the past two years, Rice has increasingly turned her time and commentary to domestic matters through opinion pieces, a memoir and serving on a bipartisan group that advised D.C. on structuring its COVID-19 reopening.

The big picture: The Biden transition team also announced on Thursday that President Obama's former chief of staff Denis McDonough would be nominated to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the president-elect continues to stock his Cabinet with familiar faces.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet tracker: Which nominees have been confirmed

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All of President Biden's Cabinet nominees have now been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: Biden now has known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

Updated 17 mins ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.