Daley to depart as WH Chief of Staff

Bill Daley’s tenure as White House chief of staff has proven to be more difficult than administration insiders had expected. When he was brought in, Daley, a former Commerce Secretary and banking executive, was supposed to help improve relations with Congress, set the stage for constructive negotiations with Republicans, and strengthen White House ties with business leaders.

It was practically a replay of the Clinton White House’s post-1994 strategy. It made a degree of sense that President Obama and his team brought in a leading Clinton guy to execute that strategy.

The effort didn’t go well. Congressional Democrats have found Daley hard to work with (Harry Reid, in particular, was known to have complained about Daley directly to the president); Republicans don’t want to negotiate with anyone about anything, and the White House has adopted a more combative tone overall.

In November, Daley’s responsibilities “shifted” and management of the day-to-day operations of the White House was given to Pete Rouse. In about a half-hour, the president will announce that Daley is taking the next step and leaving the West Wing altogether.

William Daley is stepping down as White House chief of staff and budget director Jack Lew is taking over the President Obama’s team as it heads into a tough election year, senior administration officials say.

Daley gave his letter of resignation to the president in a private meeting in the Oval Office last week, recounting the administration’s successes of his one year on the job and saying it was time for him to return to his hometown of Chicago.

The formal change won’t occur until later this month — after the State of the Union and OMB’s budget proposal — but since Daley hasn’t really been managing the West Wing anyway, this would appear to affect Lew far more than the current chief of staff.

As someone who was less than thrilled when Daley got the job, I’m not exactly sorry to hear the news. What’s more, I’ve liked Lew, and have no doubt he’ll be excellent in this role.

My larger concern is that Lew is a great OMB chief, and getting the Senate to confirm his replacement, whomever that may be, is going to be exceedingly unpleasant.

Regardless, I’m rather pleased with the news. The White House has been largely on the right track lately — payroll fight, mercury emissions, CFPB recess appointments, etc. — and Lew seems likely to help keep it that way.