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Lee Wolosky, right, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Photo: Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images

President Biden is tapping former ambassador Lee Wolosky, who led President Obama’s efforts to shut down Guantanamo Bay, to coordinate the administration’s legal efforts to resettle Afghan evacuees, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By bringing in a seasoned attorney with experience in the public and private sector, Biden is trying to ensure that his administration’s unprecedented resettlement program stands on solid legal footing.

  • Wolosky, who will serve as a special counsel to the president, will take a leave from his firm, Jenner & Block LLP, to work with the National Security Council (NSC) and other administration officials on resettlement, as well as other issues related to the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan.
  • Under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Wolosky served as Director of Transnational Threats on the National Security Council at the White House.
  • Obama put him in charge of efforts to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in 2015 and made him an ambassador in 2016.

The big picture: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said that at least 50,000 Afghans are expected to be admitted into the United States after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.

  • Last week, Biden appointed Jack Markell, a former governor of Delaware, to temporarily lead the Afghan resettlement effort in the United States.
  • The Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday urged Congress to provide an additional $6.4 billion for Afghan allies in part "to support processing sites overseas and in the United States," according to a blog post from OMB Acting Director Shalanda Young.

Go Deeper: Wolosky will be designated a special government employee with the expectation that he will serve for under 130 days.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa projected to help resettle hundreds of Afghan refugees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa will help resettle between 350 to 400 Afghan refugees, according to projections provided to Axios by resettlement agencies and a state official this week.

Why it matters: President Biden's administration is processing and resettling tens of thousands of Afghans across the United States over the next several weeks — and we're starting to get a better idea of Iowa's role in the efforts.

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Jan. 6 panel hires former Bush administration official as top legal adviser

Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) at a press conference with the Jan. 6 select committee. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has hired John F. Wood, a former U.S. attorney and a member of the George W. Bush administration, as its top legal adviser.

Why it matters: The decision is part of a continued effort to make the committee nonpartisan and follows the elevation of Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney to serve as vice chairwoman on the panel.

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