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Biden picks Samantha Power, former UN envoy, for US aid post

Associated Press

Washington – President-elect Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he has picked Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama, to run the agency overseeing American foreign humanitarian and development aid.

If confirmed by the Senate, Power will head the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has an annual budget of about $20 billion. Biden also announced that he is elevating the position to the National Security Council within the White House, a signal that he will prioritize outreach to other nations.

In this Oct. 16, 2017 file photo, Harvard professor Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, addresses an audience at a forum on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass.

Biden said USAID will coordinate America’s work to lead a global response to combat the coronavirus and help the most vulnerable nations.

He called Power, 50, who was born in Britain to Irish parents, raised in Ireland, and became a U.S. citizen in 1993, “a world-renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity.”

Power, a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, worked as a journalist during the Balkan wars in the early 1990s and served as U.N. ambassador from 2013 to 2017. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” about the U.S. foreign policy response to genocide.

Vice President Joe Biden talks with U.S. United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power as they attend a meeting between President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.

“As a journalist, activist, and diplomat, I’ve seen the world-changing impact of USAID,” she said in a tweet. “At this critical moment, I feel immensely fortunate to have the chance to serve again, working with the incredible USAID team to confront COVID-19, climate change, humanitarian crises, & more.”

Power is married to constitutional scholar Cass Sunstein. She had been critical of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries in 2016 and famously called her a “monster” in an interview with a Scottish newspaper.

As such, she was a controversial choice for Obama to appoint to the NSC in 2017 yet overcame differences with Clinton’s team and replaced Susan Rice as U.S. envoy to the U.N. when Obama named Rice his national security adviser after winning reelection.