President Biden has a new chief of staff. Jeff Zients will take over the reins from Ron Klain.
Zients is expected to bring a decidedly different management style to the position, with ripple effects across an administration pointing toward the 2024 election, current and former officials say, Axios reported.
Klain had a tearful goodbye this week, thanking Biden and his staff in a ceremony that was sentimental. Klain had been by Biden’s side for more than three decades.
Klain broke some news on his way out. He pledged to be there again for a re-election campaign that Biden has not yet formally announced, but which the president has said he intends to do very soon.
Jeff Zients, who served as Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator and a chairman of the Biden transition team, will bring a different set of skills to the job.
Zients isn’t as opinionated as Klain, who brought both decades of D.C. experience and strong views to his dream job. Zients is also expected to delegate much more.
That will give the core members of Biden’s team, most notably senior adviser Anita Dunn, greater influence on daily tactics and long-term strategy.
Zients also will rely more on counselor Steve Ricchetti, senior adviser Mike Donilon, deputy chiefs of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon and Bruce Reed, and Louisa Terrell, the head of legislative affairs.
The White House will spend much of the next two years focused on ensuring that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and the $740 billion tax, climate and health care law passed during Biden’s administration are implemented “efficiently and effectively and fairly,” the president said.
Analysts say that this changing of the guard is happening at a pivotal moment within the Biden presidency. Zients comes on board facing GOP-led congressional investigations on everything, from Biden’s handling of classified documents to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and actions by the president’s son, Hunter.
Jeff Zients is an entrepreneur who made a fortune by building healthcare and education consultancies. He does not have deep relationships with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and did not nurture those contacts through years of coffee dates and phone calls in the same way as his predecessor. His interactions with Biden tend to be matter-of-fact briefings, where he offers the president a list of options and sometimes calls on aides to flesh out the details.