Washington: US President Joe Biden on Friday named his former top COVID-19 aide Jeff Zients as new White House chief of staff.
Biden praised Klain for his tireless work, and said he is "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," in a statement. Zient replaced Ron Klain as chief of staff, one of the most crucial positions in an administration gearing up for a possible re-election campaign. Klain saw Biden through the first two years of his term.
"During the last 36 years, Ron and I have been through some real battles together. And when you're in the trenches with somebody for as long as I have been with Ron, you really get to know the person. You see what they're made of," Biden said in a statement.
The change at the top may presage other personnel shifts in the coming weeks and months as the White House gears up for the 2024 election.
Notably, Klain has run Biden's White House since the president took office two years ago.
Chiefs of staff do everything from managing access to the president, setting his agenda, communicating with political power brokers and acting as a constant crisis manager and sounding board for ideas.
Zients, who oversaw the vast COVID-19 pandemic response when Biden took office, is considered a skilled technocrat, who does not have the deep political connections of Klain but will aim to make sure that the earlier legislative victories are followed through.
Zients, who declined to comment on Sunday, was considered the best choice for what aides expect to be a challenging period for the White House, which is bracing for a blizzard of political fights with the Republicans now controlling the House and a new special counsel investigation looking into the mishandling of classified documents, reported The New York Times.
Zients' first government job was in 2009, when he was made chief performance officer for the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration. He went on to serve as the director of the National Economic Council and assistant to Obama for economic policy.
Zients also dealt with the aftermath of the failures Healthcare.gov, after the Affordable Care Act website imploded shortly after launching.
"When I ran for office, I promised to make government work for the American people," Biden said, adding, "That's what Jeff does. A big task ahead is now implementing the laws we've gotten passed efficiently and fairly."
Biden has not yet declared he is running again but is widely expected to do so, potentially pitting him again against Trump in 2024.