WASHINGTON – In a jolt to the White House, President Barack Obama announced Monday that chief of staff William Daley was quitting and heading home, capping a short and rocky tenure that had been expected to last until Election Day. Obama budget chief Jack Lew, a figure long familiar with Washington’s ways, will take over one of the most consuming jobs in America.
Daley’s run as Obama’s chief manager and gatekeeper lasted only a year. It was filled with consequential moments for the White House, like the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but also stumbles with Congress and grumbles that Daley was not the right choice to coordinate an intense operation of ideas, offices and egos.
Stepping in is the mild-mannered Lew, who began his career on Capitol Hill, where he spent nearly a decade as principal domestic policy adviser to the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Lew, 56, has worked for Obama as a deputy secretary of state before becoming budget director, the same position he held in the Clinton administration.
Obama now plows ahead in an election year with his third chief of staff – one of the most crucial positions in government and politics. Daley had replaced the colorful and involved-in-everything Rahm Emanuel, who left the job to run for Chicago mayor, a position he now holds. Senior adviser Pete Rouse also served as interim chief of staff for a stretch.
The chief-of-staff transition is expected by the end of the month, with Lew staying on at the Office of Management and Budget until the budget plan is released in late January. It is unclear who will lead the agency after that.