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June 18, 2021

Biden to tap longtime Obama adviser to lead Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough speaks during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit in New York. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

President-elect Joe Biden is poised to tap Denis McDonough to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, a person familiar with the decision says, adding a longtime chief of staff to former President Barack Obama to his new Cabinet. 

It’s the latest example of how Biden is turning to a trusted set of advisers to surround him in his new administration.

As VA Secretary, McDonough would be inheriting one of the most challenging agencies in the government, so Biden was looking “for a seasoned hand, who knows the government well,” a person familiar with the decision says.

Several veterans groups were hoping Biden would chose a veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. McDonough did not serve in the military, but rather has long experience navigating bureaucracies on Capitol Hill and the White House.

McDonough, a native of Minnesota who served as the chief of staff during Obama’s entire second term, also worked as deputy national security adviser. He developed a close relationship with Vice President Biden during both positions.

He is a devout Catholic, a bond he also shares with Biden.

The announcement of McDonough is forthcoming. He could join other prospective Cabinet nominees on Friday in Wilmington, but timing is still not confirmed.

Politico was first to report the McDonough selection.