OMB's Jack Lew to take over as White House chief of staff

Monday - 1/9/2012, 4:25pm EST

President Barack Obama's news conference

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio
@jmooreWFED

Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob "Jack" Lew will take over as White House chief of staff, following the departure of William Daley, the current top aide to the President. The change will be effective at the end of the month.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama cited Lew as the "clear choice" for "one of the

Jack Lew, the administration's current budget director, listens at left, as President Barack Obama speaks about the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington. Obama announced that Lew will replace Daley. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

most difficult jobs in Washington."

The departure of Daley, whom Obama selected as chief of staff in January 2011, was first reported by the Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times Monday afternoon.

Lew took the helm of OMB in November 2010. The former Clinton administration budget director was nominated by Obama after the administration's first budget director, Peter Orszag, resigned in July 2010.

"As anyone who's been following the news lately can tell you, this is not an easy job," Obama said of Lew's experience heading OMB. He cited Lew's tenure at the agency in 1990s when he presided over budget surpluses for three years.

"And over the last year, he has helped strengthen our economy and streamline the government at a time when we need to do everything we can to keep our recovery going," Obama added.

Prior to being nominated to his OMB post, Lew served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Hillary Clinton.

OMB officials said Lew would stay at OMB to finalize the 2013 budget. However, there are no indications yet of a possible Lew successor.

Before Lew was confirmed, OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients served as the acting director of the office. However, since then, Heather Higginbottom, former deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Counsel, was confirmed as OMB's deputy director.

"There is a very talented and committed senior team here at OMB," said OMB Communications Director Kenneth Baer in an emailed statement. "Whatever decision the President makes about who is to lead the agency, there will be a continuity of leadership at the highest levels."

Though respected and lauded by members of both parties, Lew's nomination to head OMB was blocked by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), in an unrelated dispute over oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And in an election year, the confirmation process for a new OMB nominee will likely be even more fraught with gridlock than usual.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report).

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