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The National Security Council is the President’s principal forum for national security and foreign policy decision making with his or her senior national security advisors and cabinet officials, and the President’s principal arm for coordinating these policies across federal agencies.
Today’s challenges demand a new and broader understanding of national security–one that facilitates coordination between domestic and foreign policy as well as among traditional national security, economic security, health security, and environmental security. The Biden-Harris NSC recognizes and reflects this reality.
The NSC is chaired by the President. Its regular attendees are the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Chief of Staff to the President, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the military advisor to the Council, and the Director of National Intelligence is the intelligence advisor. Counsel to the President and the Legal Advisor to the NSC are invited to attend every NSC meeting. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials, including the COVID-19 Response Coordinator and the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC when appropriate to address the cross-cutting nature of many critical national security issues, such as homeland security, global public health, international economics, climate, science and technology, cybersecurity, migration, and others.
The National Security Council was established by the National Security Act of 1947 (PL 235 – 61 Stat. 496; U.S.C. 402), amended by the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.). Later in 1949, as part of the Reorganization Plan, the Council was placed in the Executive Office of the President.