Unlike Daley, Lew knows Capitol Hill well, having begun his Washington career in 1973 as a legislative aide and spending eight years as House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr.’s principal domestic policy adviser.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called Lew’s promotion “a superb choice” and added that few “have Jack’s level of experience and knowledge.”
Lew will remain at the budget office this month to wrap up work on the administration’s fiscal 2013 federal budget proposal, which aides said is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. Obama did not name a successor to Lew.
Daley drew criticism during the White House’s fight with congressional Republicans over debt-ceiling negotiations in the summer.
In one particularly embarrassing episode, Obama requested to speak to a joint session of Congress in September only to be rejected by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who invited him instead to come a day later. The White House claimed that Daley had earlier secured Boehner’s agreement for the original date, but the speaker’s office denied that an agreement was in place.
After that, Obama switched tactics, eschewing direct negotiations with Congress in favor of a public barnstorming tour in which he contrasted his efforts to create jobs with a legislature that the president said was mired in partisan gridlock.
White House aides said that Obama will continue in that vein in the coming months as he ramps up his reelection message that the administration is fighting to improve the lives of middle-class Americans.
In his resignation letter to the president, Daley praised Obama’s leadership during a year of “great challenge for the American people,” citing his push in the fall to boost the economy through his jobs legislation.
Obama’s focus on jobs growth “shows that you will not rest until our fellow citizens recover,” Daley wrote.
Staff writers Cheryl W. Thompson, Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane contributed to this report.