US President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday confirmed his selection of Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state.
Sherman, a chief US negotiator for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, will be nominated for the role under Biden’s nominee for the secretary position, Tony Blinken.
Her selection had been reported by Politico earlier this week.
Biden also announced Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the third-highest ranking post in the department.
During the Obama administration, Nuland was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Biden is filling out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signaling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump.
The team “embodies my core belief that America is strongest when it works with our allies,” Biden said in a statement. He said he was confident “they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back.”
Currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and a professor of public leadership and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, Sherman served as undersecretary for political affairs in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2015.
She was initially a favorite to become Biden’s UN ambassador, a position he ended up giving to longtime diplomat and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Working with then-deputy secretary of state Blinken, Sherman was a key architect of the Iran nuclear deal, which exposed her to criticism from parts of the pro-Israel establishment in Washington.
Invoking her own Judaism, she has described the dissent the Obama administration faced over the multilateral accord from the American Jewish community as the most “painful” part of its efforts to push the deal through.
Sherman began her career in politics working as chief of staff for then-congresswoman Barbara Mikulski, a prominent pro-Israel voice on Capitol Hill until her retirement in 2017.
Blinken and Sherman will inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.
Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30 percent in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.
Other State Department appointments are:
— Longtime Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon, to be deputy secretary of state for management. That deputy position has been vacant for some time and McKeon and Sherman are expected to share duties as the department’s No. 3 official.
— Former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya, to be under secretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights, respectively.
— Derek Chollet, a familiar Democratic foreign policy hand, to be State Department counselor.
— Former UN official Salman Ahmed, who also served as head of strategic planning in the Obama National Security Council, as director of policy planning.
— Suzy George, who was a senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, will be Blinken’s chief of staff.
— Ned Price, a former Obama NSC staffer and career CIA official who resigned in protest in the early days of the Trump administration, will serve as the public face of the department, taking on the role of spokesman.
— Jalina Porter, communications director for Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is leaving Congress to work in the White House, will be Price’s deputy.