Thursday, June 20, 2024

Susan Rice officially says goodbye to Biden-Harris White House

The White House is saying goodbye to outgoing domestic policy advisor Susan Rice, who officially ended her time with the Biden-Harris administration.

President Joe Biden on Friday held a farewell event for Rice, who he praised in a written statement and said he would miss. 

“As the only person to serve as both National Security Advisor and Domestic Policy Advisor, Susan’s record of public service makes history,” said the president. 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 26: Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Rice discussed plans for President Biden’s racial equity agenda. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“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.”

Biden thanked Rice for her service, counsel, and “friendship.”

Rice, a longtime diplomat who has served in high-level senior roles during multiple presidencies, helped steer the Biden White House to key legislative successes, including the administration’s historic implementation of whole-of-government actions on racial equity.

In an interview with theGrio, however, she laments about several agenda items she wished were accomplished. Two of those missed opportunities were the passing of the police reform bill in George Floyd’s name and federal protections to restore and strengthen voting rights laws

Rice squarely placed the blame on the Republican Party. However, she said, hopefully, voters in 2024 will give President Biden a second term and elect a Congress that “will change and be more amenable to these things because these are still important pieces of business.”

Friday marks Rice’s third goodbye to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While speaking to theGrio outside the White House’s West Wing, she talked passionately about her work there for more than two years. 

“I’m so proud of what President Biden has been able to do for the American people on the domestic policy front,” remarked Rice.

President Joe Biden (center) delivers remarks on reproductive rights in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in July 2022 as Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra (right) listen in. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Those accomplishments and their impact on the Black community include work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

“This administration has provided an unprecedented $6 billion to our [HBCUs],” said Rice. She also acknowledged the administration is working on a plan to ramp up funding and accreditation for HBCUs and help them become more research ready with the top R1 designation.

Prior to her tenure with the Biden administration, the 58-year-old married mother of two worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in varying roles. Rice’s first stint in the White House was in 1997 when she joined the Clinton White House as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Her international prominence came during the Obama years when she served as a national security advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Politics and service are in Rice’s blood. The D.C. native’s mother, Lois Rice, an executive and education policy expert, was considered the mother of the Pell Grant because of her work lobbying for its creation. Her father, Emmit Rice, served as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board. 

When asked if she would consider a return to the White House, including on a presidential ticket or even running for president, Rice appeared to leave the door open to return to a life of public service.

“I am not making news today,” she told theGrio.

President Biden personally courted Rice, a Rhodes scholar, to be part of his administration. Rice was initially part of a shortlist of highly-qualified Black women Biden considered for his 2020 presidential running mate – a role that ultimately went to now-Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden instead selected Rice to join his presidential transition team and eventually named her as his domestic policy advisor, an influential role that did not need a U.S. Senate confirmation. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 24: White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice (R) speaks on President Biden’s announcement of student loan debt forgiveness as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (L) and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Bharat Ramamurti (2nd L) listen during a White House daily press briefing at the James S. Brady Press Room of the White House August 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rice admits she “stayed longer than expected.” When she agreed to take the role, she planned to do the job for two years. Instead, she stayed on for nearly six months longer.

During her exit interview with theGrio, Rice was too modest to focus on herself. However, she spoke glowingly about the accomplishments of the Biden-Harris administration, particularly those she says improved the lives of Black communities across the country.

One of those accomplishments, she said, was the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. “[We] expanded healthcare for Black Americans,” noted Rice. “Four hundred thousand more [people] have access to health insurance under President Biden.” 

She also celebrated the administration’s ability to reduce the cost of healthcare through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

“We have reduced the cost of health insurance for the average family by $800,000 a year [and] seniors on Medicare can now get their insulin for $35 a month,” said Rice.

But as Rice’s replacement Neera Tanden takes the baton on leading the Biden-Harris White House’s critical work on unfinished business like voting rights and police reform, the former ambassador said she also hopes to see more progress on public safety, which is a major priority for the administration amid countless mass shootings.

“Violence in our community is unprecedented –  gun violence especially,” she said. “None of us are satisfied with where we are.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!


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