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Biden taps Susan Rice to steer domestic policy

President-elect Biden will name former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to head the Domestic Policy Council, two people familiar with his plans tell Axios — a significant change from her previous roles that would put her in charge of major portions of his “Build Back Better” plan.

Between the lines: Rice was previously considered for Cabinet positions including Secretary of State, but she would have faced steep confirmation odds given her history of clashes with some GOP senators and as a flashpoint over Benghazi. The DPC role does not require Senate confirmation.


  • She'll coordinate closely with the president-elect’s top national security and economic advisers, Jake Sullivan and Brian Deese.
  • This reflects Biden’s desire for more interconnected management of foreign, economic and domestic policy.
  • Her appointment is expected to be announced Friday.

The big picture: Rice, 56, a Black woman and former UN ambassador, is a heavy-hitter and trusted friend whom Biden considered for his running mate as well as Cabinet posts. She's being brought in to elevate the DPC’s stature along with an expansion of staff and resources to guide the U.S. through the pandemic and recovery.

  • “She’s not a wallflower; she’s going to speak up when she thinks something needs more attention,” one source tells Axios, adding that Biden “welcomes that.”
  • Movement toward a stronger DPC also took place during the Trump administration.
  • Many presidential advisers over the years have served in multiple administrations. It’s less common to bounce between foreign- and domestic-facing roles, though there have been notable examples, including James Baker and Leon Panetta.

Be smart: While Rice's resume is heavy on foreign policy, diplomacy and national security, her biography is steeped in consideration of domestic issues including civil rights, education and economic and racial equality.

  • Her late mother was known as "the mother of Pell Grants" while her late father was a Federal Reserve governor and economics professor and served in the Tuskegee Airmen. Her grandparents were immigrants and a great-grandfather a slave.
  • She and Biden have spoken in detail about how her personal and family story has shaped her views of domestic challenges, the sources said.

How it works: In this role, Rice will meet regularly with Biden, sit on the administration’s COVID-19 task force, convene sessions with Cabinet secretaries and formulate and coordinate policies.

  • Health care, immigration and racial equity are expected to top the new administration’s domestic priorities.
  • More broadly, the DPC encompasses agencies' work on education, labor, energy, gun policy, veterans’ affairs, housing, transportation, agriculture, the environment, conservation, opioid addiction, civil rights, voting rights and democratic governance.

What we're watching: Over the past two years, Rice has increasingly turned her time and commentary to domestic matters, through opinion pieces, a memoir and serving on a bipartisan group that advised DC on structuring its COVID-19 reopening.

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The state of play: Johnson's procedural move will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate, during which Republicans will propose amendments to force uncomfortable votes for Democrats. Schumer promised that the Senate will stay in session "no matter how long it takes" to finish voting on the $1.7 trillion rescue package.

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Data: EIA and FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gas prices are hitting new post-pandemic highs across the country, but this isn't a story of America reopening. It's really just a function of the price of oil going up.

By the numbers: Gasoline cost $2.71 on average as of Monday, per the Energy Information Administration. The highest average price was $3.59 in Los Angeles, while the lowest was $2.33 in Houston.

  • All of these prices represent the highest level seen since 2019.

The big picture: The price of crude oil reflects more than half of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. (The rest is refinery costs, distribution costs, and taxes.)

  • Demand for oil has actually been declining, per the New York Fed, but supply has been falling even faster, with the result that prices have now topped $64 for a barrel of Brent crude.

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Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

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Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

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