Biden and Harris announce new defense picks, Georgia campaigning plans

Presidential Transition

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden departs his plane after arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport before attending a drive-in rally for U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock at Pullman Yard on December 15, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced new nominees to lead the U.S. Department of Defense on Wednesday.

Biden nominated Kathleen Hicks as deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Hicks currently leads the team working to ensure a smooth transition within the Defense Department once Biden takes office on Jan. 20. She also serves as senior vice president and director of the international security program at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hicks has decades of national security and foreign policy experience, including roles within the Obama-Biden administration and the Pentagon.

Kahl has been a long-time national security advisor to President-elect Biden, according to the transition team. He currently co-directs the Center for International Security and Cooperation and teaches political science at Stanford University. 

“Kahl has played a lead role in the development and implementation of the Pentagon’s strategy and policy, including for a responsible drawdown and transition in Iraq, countering Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and destabilizing activities, and strengthening the defense relationship with Israel,” Biden’s transition team said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Biden and Harris also released plans to travel to Georgia in early January to campaign for Democratic candidates in runoff elections that could determine which part controls the U.S. Senate.

A statement from their transition team said Harris will travel to Savannah on Jan. 3 to campaign on behalf of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, will go to Atlanta the following day.

Ossoff and Warnock face Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

If the Democrats win both seats, the Senate would be split 50-50 with the Republican Party, giving the tie-breaking vote to Harris and control of both congressional chambers to the Democratic Party.

If the Republicans win one or both of the Georgia seats, they will retain a slim majority in the chamber and can block Biden’s legislative goals and judicial nominees.

President Donald Trump rallied in Georgia on behalf of Perdue and Loeffler earlier this month. He hasn’t yet announced any plans to campaign in the state in the coming days.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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