President Obama announced Monday that the White House chief of staff, William M. Daley, was stepping down, jolting the top ranks of his administration less than a year before he faces a difficult re-election. Mr. Daley will be replaced by Jacob J. Lew, the budget director and a seasoned Washington insider with ties to Capitol Hill, according to The New York Times.
Just after 3:00, President Obama made an announcement from State Dining Room: “Last week, my Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, informed me that after spending time reflecting with his family over the holidays, he decided it was time to leave Washington and return to our beloved hometown of Chicago.”
Mr. Daley, a fellow Chicagoan who was recruited by Mr. Obama a year ago to help strike bipartisan legislative deals, struggled to find his footing in a ferociously partisan Washington and failed to help his boss broker a huge budget agreement with Congressional Republicans last summer.
“I didn’t accept Bill’s decision right away. In fact, I asked him to take a couple of days to make sure that he was sure about this,” said Obama. “But in the end, the pull of the hometown we both love – a city that’s been synonymous with the Daley family for generations – was too great. Bill told me that he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and he felt it was the right decision.”
The President praised Daley’s service, saying that no one had been forced to make more important decisions more quickly than the former Secretary of Commerce: “Over the last year, he’s been intimately involved in every decision surrounding the end of the war in Iraq and our support of the people of Libya as they fought for their freedom.
He was instrumental in developing the American Jobs Act and making sure taxes didn’t go up on middle-class families. He helped us reach an agreement to reduce the deficit by over $2 trillion. And he played a central role in passing historic trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.”
Daley will remain the White House chief of staff until the end of the month, reports The Huff Post. The extra few weeks on the job means he will be around to help craft Obama’s State of the Union address later this month, while Lew can focus on wrapping up the administration’s fiscal 2013 budget plan.
Mr. Lew, known as Jack, is a mild-mannered and steady technocrat with long experience in the White House and on Capitol Hill, having served two administrations and a speaker of the House, Thomas P. O’Neill. He was also a deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, coordinating the “civilian surge” in Afghanistan, which Mr. Obama said would equip him to deal with foreign policy issues.
The president also said that Mr. Lew, 55, had been Mr. Daley’s choice as his replacement, and the “one clear choice” for the job. Mr. Lew worked alongside Mr. Daley in the effort to strike a budget deal with Republicans.
“Jack’s economic advice has been invaluable and he has my complete trust, both because of his mastery of the numbers, but because of the values behind those numbers,” Mr. Obama said, noting that Mr. Lew, who had served in the administration of President Bill Clinton, was the only budget director in history to preside over budget surpluses for three consecutive years.