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Markell tapped by Biden to lead Afghan resettlement

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WASHINGTON – Former Gov. Jack Markell was reportedly appointed by President Joe Biden on Friday to lead the resettlement of Afghan evacuees in the United States.

Former Gov. Jack Markell will oversee the Biden administration’s efforts to resettle Afghan evacuees. | PHOTO COURTESY OF STATE OF DELAWARE

The role, first reported by the Washington Post, would be referred to as the White House Operation Allies Welcome Coordinator, and it would coordinate the Biden administration’s resettlement policy development and engage with state and local governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to support the resettlement of Afghan evacuees.

The appointment of Markell, a friend and advisor to the president who served two terms as Delaware governor, was heralded in a statement by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Gov. Markell is a dedicated and capable public servant with the experience, intelligence and character to skillfully coordinate what will be a challenging nationwide effort to ensure our Afghan partners from America’s longest war are safely resettled in the United States,” Coons said. “I look forward to supporting him in this work and to helping rebuild our nation’s capacity to welcome evacuees.”

Gov. John Carney said in a statement that “Delaware stands ready to support this effort in any way possible.”

“Delaware is a welcoming state  a ‘state of neighbors,’ as Gov. Markell used to say. My friend and our former governor is a great selection by President Biden to lead this incredibly important mission to resettle Afghan refugees in the U.S. These are Afghans who supported American service members over the last 20 years and are coming to America seeking better lives for their families,” he said.

What was not clear Friday afternoon was how the new role would impact Markell’s nomination for an ambassadorship to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which was announced in June. The Delaware Business Times has reached out to the White House and Coons’ office for clarity on the status of Markell’s nomination, which must be approved by the Senate but has yet to be heard.

Markell’s nomination to the 60-year-old, Paris-based intergovernmental economic organization tasked with stimulating economic progress and world trade was perhaps the most high-profile state appointment to the president’s administration to date.

His appointment as the U.S. representative to the body would come at a prominent time, as the OECD is leading discussions for a global minimum corporate tax rate. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has advocated for the measure, which would prevent companies from relocating to wherever they can find the lowest rates, exacerbating a so-called “race to the bottom” for countries looking to land employers.

The OECD has been negotiating the measure for several years but was aiming to conclude talks as early as this summer, especially with a supportive administration now in the White House. Any brokered agreement, however, would still need to be approved by Congress, which could prove to be a tall task considering the slim Democratic majorities.

Markell served as governor from 2009 to 2017, overseeing Delaware’s response to the Great Recession. While governor, he also served as chair of the National Governors Association, president of the Council of State Governments, and chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Prior to being elected governor, he served as state treasurer for a decade from 1999 to 2009.

Since leaving elected office, Markell has operated his own consulting firm, raised money for charity via his passion for bike riding, and even dabbled in poetry and music production. His professional career before public office included stints as senior vice president at both Comcast Corp. and Nextel Communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in development studies and economics at Brown University and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago.

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