Biden names Obama-era UN ambassador Samantha Power to lead USAID

Biden names Obama-era UN ambassador Samantha Power to lead USAID

President-elect Joe Biden announced that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power will be his nominee for administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a position that now will be added to the National Security Council.

Power served as ambassador during the Obama administration. In that role, she ratified the Paris climate agreement on behalf of the U.S., advocated for refugee assistance and worked for international efforts to stop an Ebola epidemic.

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“Samantha Power is a world-renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity — challenging and rallying the international community to stand up for the dignity and humanity of all people,” Biden said in a statement. “I know firsthand the unparalleled knowledge and tireless commitment to principled American engagement she brings to the table, and her expertise and perspective will be essential as our country reasserts its role as a leader on the world stage. As USAID Administrator, Ambassador Power will be a powerful force for lifting up the vulnerable, ushering in a new era of human progress and development, and advancing American interests globally.”

Although USAID is an independent agency, it essentially functions alongside the State Department and, though it’s not a Cabinet position, the administrator appointee is confirmed by the Senate.

As USAID administrator, Power is expected to work with international partners in combatting the coronavirus. She has been critical of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic, penning a Foreign Affairs article in which she deemed Trump “incompetent.” 

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“The Trump administration’s response to the most urgent problem in the world today — the coronavirus pandemic — has been worse than that of any other nation,” Power wrote.

“Yet the mishandling of the pandemic is just the latest in a string of lapses in basic competence that have called into question U.S. capabilities among both long-standing allies and countries whose partnership Washington may seek in the years to come,” she added.

This would be Power’s second stint on the National Security Council (NSC). She was a member under President Obama from 2009 to 2013 before serving as UN ambassador from 2013 to 2017. She was on the NSC as special assistant to the president and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, advising the administration on issues including LGBT rights, human trafficking, corruption, UN reform and promoting democracy around the world.

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“One of the most pressing challenges facing our nation is restoring and strengthening America’s global leadership as a champion of democracy, human rights, and the dignity of all people,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Few Americans are better equipped to help lead that work than Ambassador Samantha Power.”

Power is currently a professor of the practice of global leadership and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she had been the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She is also a professor of practice in human rights at Harvard Law School.

Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.

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