Embattled White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will hand off some day-to-day responsibilities to presidential confidante Pete Rouse after coming under fire from West Wing officials for his management style and ineffectual relationship with Congress, according to administration sources.
The shift, first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday night, comes as the White House gears up for a brutal reelection campaign and a looming fight over the bipartisan supercommittee’s debt reduction proposals.
Rouse, a longtime Hill aide once known as the “101st Senator” for his stature among congressional heavyweights in both parties, will assume a far greater role in legislative affairs — easing growing tension between the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who complained to President Barack Obama personally about Daley’s performance, according to congressional sources.
The “idea Bill has turned over [all] day-to-day [management] is just wrong,” a senior administration official told POLITICO in an email.
Daley “asked Pete many weeks ago to take on an expanded operations role to try to make function more smoothly — and it’s working,” the person added. “Bill is adding to people’s responsibilities, not subtracting from anyone’s, including his own.”
The low-key Rouse — a rumpled Obama insider to Daley’s natty outsider — served as interim chief of staff from October 2010 to January 2011, after turning down Obama’s request that he take the job full-time. He currently serves as counselor to the president.
Daley’s relationship with some of his West Wing colleagues has been strained, and many pined for Rouse, who served as a bridge between the volatile Rahm Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, and Daley, the son and brother of Chicago mayors — who assumed office just ten months ago.
Earlier this year, White House aides told POLITICO they were frustrated with Daley’s top-down management style and insistence that mid-level aides be cut out of some meetings.