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Denis McDonough. Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday announced he will nominate Denis McDonough — who served as chief of staff for former President Barack Obama — to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The big picture: McDonough is the latest former Obama team member Biden has picked for his cabinet and follows his selection of Susan Rice to head the Domestic Policy Council. She previously served as national security adviser and UN ambassador during Obama's presidency.

  • Biden also nominated former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on Thursday as his secretary of Agriculture, a position he held during Obama's administration.
  • Other picks rolled out on Thursday include Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) for secretary of Housing and Urban Development and top congressional trade lawyer Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative.

What he's saying: "McDonough knows the ins and outs of government, and if confirmed, he will pull every lever to deliver results for veterans and their families," Biden's press release says.

Worth noting: Prior to McDonough's position as Obama's chief of staff from 2013 to 2017, he was Obama’s deputy national security adviser, "including during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden," AP writes.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has frozen a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.