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Lew to finish work on 2013 budget before departing OMB

Jan. 9, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
White House budget director Jack Lew will replace Bill Daley as President Obama's chief of staff.
White House budget director Jack Lew will replace Bill Daley as President Obama's chief of staff. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Budget director Jack Lew, tapped by President Obama Monday to become chief of staff, will complete work on the 2013 budget request before leaving the Office of Management and Budget.

Lew, 56, will replace Bill Daley at the end of this month, only a few days before the administration is expected to release its 2013 budget request. White House officials did not say who will replace Lew.

Federal budget expert Paul Posner said he expects Deputy OMB Director Heather Higginbottom will fill in temporarily. Most of the major work on the budget request will have been complete by the time Lew leaves OMB, said Posner, a former senior Governmental Accountability Office official.

"The basic decisions and the top line all of these things are done," Posner said. "It's not like Lew is not going to be around."

But before Higginbottom won Senate confirmation last October, her nomination languished for nine months because of Republican questions about her budget expertise. "The president must make a wise choice to replace Mr. Lew," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top GOP member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement.

"There is a very talented and committed senior team here at OMB," spokesman Kenneth Baer said in an email. "Whatever decision the President makes about who is to lead the agency, there will be a continuity of leadership at the highest levels."

Lew has served as OMB chief since November 2010. Obama said he is "the clear choice" for chief of staff, adding that he "has my complete trust, not just because of his mastery of the numbers, but because of the values behind those numbers."

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