Joe Biden plans to nominate Rahm Emanuel, a former US lawmaker who served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama and as mayor of Chicago, to be ambassador to Japan, the White House said in a statement on Friday.
White House officials lauded Emanuel’s experience and long years of public service in announcing the nomination.
Emanuel, 61, headed the finance committee for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and later served as a senior adviser to Clinton on policy and strategy. He was Obama’s chief of staff for over a year before resigning to run for election as mayor of Chicago, the third largest US city.
The White House highlighted Emanuel’s work on revitalizing Chicago, which hosted the 2012 Nato summit and led the country in attracting foreign direct investment for six consecutive years. He is currently national chair of the Advisory Council of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) mentoring program.
Emanuel said he was honored to be tapped for the job. “The alliance between the United States and Japan is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said in a statement.
The longtime Democratic politician joins a long list of ambassadors nominated by Biden who are awaiting confirmation hearings and confirmation by the US Senate.
The White House has grown increasingly frustrated about the slow pace of confirmations for nearly 300 of Biden’s nominees, with many nominations being held up by Senator Ted Cruz and other Republican senators to register frustration over various issues.
Some Republicans could support Emanuel, who shares some of the same political donors, but his nomination will likely anger some Democrats given his “poor track record on racial justice and past efforts to undermine the party’s progressive wing,” said Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project advocacy group.
Emanuel may also have to win over Bernie Sanders, who is not a fan. In 2016, when Sanders was running against Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, the senator wrote on Twitter: “I want to thank Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing me. I don’t want the endorsement of a mayor shutting down schools and firing teachers.”