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Biden and Harris introduce domestic policy team who will "deliver immediate relief"

Biden introduces more picks for key roles
Biden introduces more picks for key roles 01:51

President-elect Joe Biden introduced his newest slate of nominees to fill key administration posts. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called them "leaders who will help deliver immediate relief to our great country from rural communities to big cities to everywhere in between."

Mr. Biden introduced Tom Vilsack, nominee for agriculture secretary; Marcia Fudge, nominee for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Denis McDonough, nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs; Katherine Tai, nominee for U.S. Trade Representative; and Susan Rice, to head the White House Domestic Policy Council.  

Although all are longtime government employees, questions have been raised about some of them. Vilsack, for example, served as secretary of agriculture for eight years in the Obama administration and was confirmed by the Senate in 2009 with a unanimous vote, but Politico reported Thursday Mr. Biden faced pressure to pick a Black agriculture secretary — in particular, Fudge — for the position.

Mr. Biden said Friday that he had "persistent" in wooing Vilsack because as the country tries tor recover from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the president-elect wanted someone in the position with experience.

The decision to appoint Rice to be domestic policy adviser has also been questioned, since she mainly has served in foreign policy roles, as national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Biden on Friday said he "spent some time convincing" her to accept the nomination, and he highlighted that it is a "big and critical role." 

Rice was on the short list to be Mr. Biden's running mate and is a favorite among many Democrats. She is considered a lightning rod for Republicans, who have targeted her over her initial misstatement about the 2012 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. They have also alleged that she used U.S. intelligence for political purposes by unmasking certain names of Americans.

The position Mr. Biden nominated her for does not require Senate confirmation.

Biden introduces picks for key positions 18:49

Earlier Friday, transition spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed that about 14 of roughly two dozen Cabinet-level nominations have been announced. When asked what the transition is doing to ensure the nominees who need Senate confirmation get it, Psaki said there is precedent for nominees being confirmed around the inauguration. 

Mr. Biden has already announced a slew of his picks for top positions in his administration, with 40 days to go until he's sworn into office.

On Thursday, Mr. Biden and Harris were named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2020, a recognition of "the individual or group of people who affected the news or our lives the most, for better or worse." 

"Honored to be named @TIME's Person of the Year with President-elect @JoeBiden," Harris tweeted Friday morning. "We're at a moment where we're being confronted by multiple crises that have converged. We have a lot we need to handle in the days ahead but I know together we can get it done."

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