But Daley never seemed comfortable in the job, drawing wide criticism for his handling of the bitter and protracted legislative battles between the White House and Congress during much of 2011 that helped drag down the president’s public approval ratings.
Daley struggled to develop relations with members of both houses of Congress, and after he relinquished day-to-day operations to senior adviser Pete Rouse in the fall, his role seemed significantly reduced.
In a brief appearance at the White House on Monday, Obama announced that Daley, 63, will be replaced by budget director Jacob J. Lew, effective at the end of the month. Daley will stay in the job through the president’s State of the Union address Jan. 24 to help ease the transition.
Traditionally, the role of a White House chief of staff has included managing daily operations of the staff, weighing in on domestic and foreign policy, and helping manage relationships between the White House and Capitol Hill, Wall Street and other outside groups.
Whereas the fiery Emanuel, who had been a congressman before joining the White House and left to run for mayor of Chicago, was intimately involved in most of Obama’s decisions on politics and policy, the cooler Daley was said to have taken a more CEO-like approach to the job. Congressional Democrats complained privately that Daley acted as if they were “wasting his time,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) never embraced him.
Eventually, Daley’s influence began to wane as Obama increasingly relied for political advice on trusted longtime aides such as senior adviser David Plouffe.
In Lew, 56, Obama has selected a longtime Washington figure who also oversaw the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration from 1998 to 2001.
Lew, who resumed oversight of OMB in November 2010, has played a critical role as the administration tangled with Congress over how to tame the country’s spiraling debt and survived a showdown over a payroll tax cut that was extended last month.
Lew is taking “one of the most difficult jobs in Washington,” Obama said, with Lew at his side. “But Jack has had one of the other most difficult jobs in Washington. His economic advice was invaluable. He has my complete trust.”
Obama becomes the third consecutive president to turn to his budget director in a time of trouble. Bill Clinton appointed Leon E. Panetta in the aftermath of Republicans taking control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, and George W. Bush elevated Joshua Bolten after the administration was criticized for its response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.