President Joe Biden said Monday that his top domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice, is stepping down from her post next month. Although not officially stated by the president, it has been reported that she plans to leave the White House on May 26.
As the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Rice had a broad sway on the administration’s approach to health care, immigration, and racial inequality. Rice has been a longtime Democratic foreign policy expert who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and United Nations ambassador. She also worked closely with then-Vice President Biden in those roles, and was on his short list to become his running mate during the 2020 campaign.
In a statement acknowledging Rice’s exit, Biden remembered how he “surprised” pundits by tapping Rice for the position overseeing domestic affairs, since she is “synonymous” with foreign policy.
“But what I knew then and what we all know now — after more than two years of her steady leadership of the Domestic Policy Council — it’s clear: there is no one more capable and more determined to get important things done for the American people than Susan Rice,” Biden wrote.
Rice had initially informed colleagues she entered the administration intending to stay two years, but she remained in the White House a few months longer to see through several projects, including a strategy for combating antisemitism that’s expected to be finalized before she leaves, a federal strategy on homelessness, and an effort aimed at reducing crime and helping formerly incarcerated people more smoothly re-enter society that’s likely to be announced next week.
“As the only person to serve as both national security adviser and domestic policy adviser, Susan’s record of public service makes history,” Biden added. “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 toward action and results, and the integrity, humility, and humor with which she does this work.”
Moving forward, an administration official said the process for Biden to select Rice’s successor would include candidates both inside and outside the White House. But, whomever Biden names to serve as domestic policy adviser for the remainder of his term will face much less of the policymaking sprint that Rice did and focus more on implementing existing policies and some additional executive actions.
“Susan was there during this two-year period where there was just an incredible and historic burst of policymaking, and the next year and a half is going to be different. It’s going to call for a different approach to policy,” said Brian Deese, who worked closely with Rice while serving as director of the National Economic Council. “The role and the requirements for the role are going to be different, and I think they’ll take that into consideration.”
However, Rice hasn’t ruled out a future stint in government, but her plan for now, according to a senior administration official, is to spend the summer with her family and contemplate her next act.