Zients’ chances for USTR job fading


Jeffrey Zients, acting head of the Office of Management and Budget. (Office of Management and Budget)

President Obama has asked Zients to stay on in his current role as the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, a job that the administration oddly thinks precludes him from being named to USTR, Reuters is reporting. Obama apparently wants him to remain until Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who he named to OMB chief, is confirmed.

Zients is well-regarded and was considered to be a front-runner for the trade job, though we noted in recent weeks it seemed the White House was considering other candidates. Obama is under pressure to name more minorities to his Cabinet and he has only a few slots, including USTR, left.

Other names said to be in the mix for the USTR job include Francisco Sánchez, the under secretary of commerce for international trade, and Import-Export Bank President Fred Hochberg.

Zients’s future is unclear, though he gets a vote of confidence: Reuters cites an administration source saying that the “the president hoped he would remain in the administration and other options for him would be considered.”

Sounds like a euphemism for “consolation prize.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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