Former Ways and Means Aide to Replace Marc Short

Shahira Knight had advised Trump on economic matters

Shahira Knight, then of the House Ways and Means Committee, at a Holiday Wine and Spirits Reception held by Allied Domecq. She’s the new White House legislative affairs director. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Shahira Knight, a former senior aide on the House’s top tax-writing panel, will become President Donald Trump’s top liaison to Congress, the White House announced Thursday.

Her appointment comes after legislative affairs director Marc Short’s long-expected departure became official Thursday morning. It also comes as Knight will inherit an expected fight over Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee and an expected struggle to pass spending bills after the president vowed to never again sign an omnibus appropriations package like the one he reluctantly made law earlier this year.

Knight had been a special assistant to Trump for tax and retirement policy. But she left the White House staff for Clearing House, a banking industry advocacy group, after cable news commentator Lawrence Kudlow was named to replace Gary Cohn as chief economic adviser.

Senior White House officials had told Roll Call then that Knight was under consideration for that post.

“She is very well respected here,” one senior official said in March. “She has done a great job.”

Knight joined the White House staff after several years of working at Fidelity Investments. She is a former senior adviser to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a position that charged her with overseeing the panel’s legislative and policy processes. She also worked for the Joint Economic Committee focusing on budget and tax issues.

In a statement, White House chief of staff John Kelly called Short “an integral part of the White House staff.” He also indicated Knight is inheriting a big job, saying of Short: “We will miss his profound expertise, commitment to the taxpayers, and leadership.”

Like Short, Knight brings to the job a wide network of Republican congressional contacts.

She had the backing of several Republican senators and aides for the top economic post, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

“I think she should be considered and she would be very good,” Portman said earlier this year.

Short touted his achievements in the same White House statement, listing the GOP tax law, military spending bills, and the slew of federal judges Trump successfully put on benches across the country. But he helped secure those things almost exclusively with Republican votes.

Should Democrats score gains in one or both chambers, as forecast by several analysts, Knight would not have that luxury.

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