April 1, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Roll Call

Hill Unfazed by Daley Show

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not been shy about expressing displeasure with the White House in the past, but he refused to comment on White House Counselor Pete Rouse taking on an expanded role, saying the shift is “none of my business.”

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley was pitched to Capitol Hill as the guy who could cut deals with a resurgent GOP, but it hasnt turned out that way amid this years series of debt crises and gridlock.

The news that Daley had tapped his immediate predecessor, White House counselor and longtime Capitol Hill aide Pete Rouse, to take on a leading operational role at the White House has gotten a mixed reaction on Capitol Hill, ranging from yawns to relief to resignation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has made known his displeasure with the White House over various slights this year including a recent interview in Politico in which Daley blamed Democrats and Republicans for blocking the presidents agenda.

When the news broke this week that Daley was scaling back his duties, Reid refused to weigh in, calling the shuffle none of my business.

But several senior Democratic aides told Roll Call that they feel Daley had already become marginalized in recent months with Rouse and other White House aides increasing their contacts on Capitol Hill.

Rouse has great relationships up here, said one senior aide, who also praised White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, a longtime appropriations staffer, for stepped-up coordination with Senate Democrats. They get the way the Senate works, the aide said.

Senate Democrats complained earlier this year that they sometimes felt out of the loop on debt negotiations between the White House and Republicans, and Daleys stock also sank with the snafu over the scheduling of President Barack Obamas jobs speech at the same time as a GOP presidential debate, aides said.

Much of Daleys cachet has come from his relationships with Republicans, particularly with Speaker John Boehner, and the scheduling dispute with the Ohio Republican reinforced his lack of pull, one aide said.

Several Senate Republicans praised Daley in interviews with Roll Call but said his efforts to reach out to the GOP had run into Obamas need to find someone to blame for the limping economy ahead of the 2012 election.

The governing model has been replaced by the blame Congress model, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. A guy like Daley is useless in that enterprise. ... They hired a guy to do A, which was to try find a way to solve problems, which hes pretty good at, and now theyve got a political strategy where hes basically worthless. Thats why. That role no longer exists.

Graham and other Senate Republicans point to the White Houses lack of involvement in pushing for a deal from the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction as a sign that it is in full-on campaign mode.

They are playing zero role in this, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said of the White Houses involvement with the super committee. He dismissed the White House shuffle as a yawner. Corker said hes had good conversations with Daley as a fellow former businessman, but he said the White House has become disengaged from the legislative process.

But Corker said he still expects Daley to be the one reaching out to the GOP.

Im sure hell still be the same guy I call, he said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the No. 3 Republican, said it appears the White House thinks that Rouse is better able to coordinate with the campaign, and the campaign seems to be calling all the shots, which is unfortunate because were at a time where the country and the world needs us to come to a result on debt reduction.

And Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) said that the move is another sign that the partisans have taken over the White House. Daley is a reasonable human being. Hes somebody you can work with. And theres a considerable number of people who dont want that.

The shift itself is a bit undefined White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that more was being made of the change than was the reality and that the change had been in the works for weeks or months.

Carney said Daley would remain chief of staff and wasnt giving up his duties, even as Rouse was taking on more. In addition, Daley previously announced he will exit the White House after the election, even if Obama is re-elected.

Its about making the White House as effective and efficient as possible. ... And what Bill announced in one of our meetings yesterday morning was simply that, as most of you know or a lot of you know, Ive asked Pete to take on these additional responsibilities to help us function better.

Carney said the change would largely affect internal communication.

Regardless of the particulars of the shuffle, the larger shift in the White Houses dealings with Congress, the Democratic aides said, is a much tougher line against Hill Republicans, which they also interpret as a sign of Daleys waning influence.

Republicans who are concerned that Daley, their most friendly contact in the White House, is getting marginalized only have themselves to blame, one of the aides said. They didnt make any concessions to keep him there. The didnt meet him halfway on anything.

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?