West News Wire: President Joe Biden has appointed Jeff Zients, a former COVID-19 policy coordinator, as his new chief of staff to manage the administration of the White House as he enters the second half of his term.
Zients will take over for Ron Klain, who is stepping down from his position after two years, Biden revealed on Friday.
With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and Democrats holding a majority in the Senate, the president now faces a split Congress that will stymie his legislative agenda and probably force him to rely more on executive orders to advance his policy aims.
One of the most powerful members of the executive branch has frequently been the chief of staff for the White House. They direct the day-to-day affairs of the White House, manage staff, act as gatekeepers of the president’s office and oversee the implementation of policy.
Biden heaped praise on Klain on Friday while expressing confidence in Zients’s ability to take on the position.
“When I ran for office, I promised to make government work for the American people. That’s what Jeff does. A big task ahead is now implementing the laws we’ve gotten passed efficiently and fairly,” Biden said in a statement.
“I’m confident that Jeff will continue Ron’s example of smart, steady leadership, as we continue to work hard every day for the people we were sent here to serve.”
During the past two years, Biden signed into law several bills securing trillions of dollars for the country’s infrastructure, energy sector and healthcare system. These funds are now being dispensed on various projects and subsidies under the ultimate supervision of the White House.
In his resignation letter, Klain said it was “the right time for this team to have fresh leadership”.
“I have served longer than eight of the last nine Chiefs of Staff, and have given this job my all; now it is time for someone else to take it on,” Klain wrote to Biden.
Zients has extensive experience in the private sector. He has served as chairman and chief executive of The Advisory Board, an education and healthcare consulting company. He was also a managing partner of the investment firm Portfolio Logic. He was chair of the board of directors of Children’s National Medical Center and a board member at Facebook.
He also previously worked as co-chair for Biden’s transition process and in senior positions in the Barack Obama administration.
After suffering from declining approval ratings last year, Biden had bounced back in public opinion polls, and his Democratic Party outperformed expectations in the November midterm elections.
But recently, the president has been facing controversy after classified government documents were found at his private home in Delaware and former offices at a Washington, DC think tank. The Department of Justice has appointed a special counsel to look into the issue.