Susan Rice to Step Down as Biden’s Domestic Policy Adviser
Susan Rice, President Biden’s domestic policy adviser, will step down next month after overseeing some of the administration’s most polarizing issues, including gun control, student loan relief and immigration, the White House announced on Monday.
“As the only person to serve as both national security adviser and domestic policy adviser, Susan’s record of public service makes history,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “But what sets her apart as a leader and colleague is the seriousness with which she takes her role and the urgency and tenacity she brings, her bias towards action and results, and the integrity, humility and humor with which she does this work.”
The news of Ms. Rice’s departure was reported first by NBC News.
During more than two years in office, she worked on Mr. Biden’s student loan cancellation plan, a police reform executive order and a policy to cap the price of insulin at $35. She also worked on a plan to pardon thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession and advance Mr. Biden’s racial equity agenda.
Ms. Rice will step down on May 26, as the Biden administration is expected to lift a Trump-era public health rule that has empowered it to expel thousands of migrants. The New York Times reported last week that Ms. Rice’s team was warned in 2021 that migrant children were working alongside their sponsors, a sign of human trafficking, and did not take sufficient action, according to people familiar with the matter.
The White House has disputed that Ms. Rice saw that warning.
Ms. Rice, a foreign policy heavyweight, was a surprise choice for domestic policy adviser; she had been rumored to be on the short list to be Mr. Biden’s running mate in 2020 and has the kind of résumé that could have put her in the running for secretary of state.
The Domestic Policy Council had long been seen as the little sibling to the National Security Council.
Ms. Rice too was taken aback when she got the call.
“She was like, ‘You know I’m not a domestic policy expert,’” said Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff who discussed the position with Ms. Rice during the transition. “I said: ‘No, I know that Susan, but I’ve seen you work in the White House and I know you can handle hard things and get things done and bring people together and get answers churned out. That’s what the president’s going to need.’”
A former varsity athlete raised in the elite schools of Washington, D.C., Ms. Rice would rise from the Clinton administration to become President Barack Obama’s United Nations ambassador before being tapped as his national security adviser.
She became a favorite target of Republicans after she made the rounds on news shows in response to the 2012 terrorist attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead. The relentless attacks made it unlikely that she could take on a higher role that required congressional confirmation.
Mr. Biden and Ms. Rice have long been close but became even closer when she was the national security adviser in the Obama administration, with an office so near the vice president’s that they shared a bathroom. Ms. Rice has said that Mr. Biden was her favorite “unannounced” visitor to her office during those days.
Now, the familiarity between the two is obvious to others in the Oval Office.
Ms. Rice has been one of the senior officials who was granted the ability to drop in on Mr. Biden without the chief of staff present, Mr. Klain said. She does visit him unannounced often, but the two meet formally multiple times a week.