Obama Names Hill Vets to Key Roles

Posted November 15, 2008 at 8:07am

President-elect Barack Obama announced on Saturday that Phil Schiliro will serve in the White House as assistant to the president for legislative affairs, making the longtime staffer to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) Obama’s chief liaison to Capitol Hill.

In addition, Obama said in a written statement that senior aide Valerie Jarrett will serve as assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison, a role in which she will be his White House emissary to K Street and the agencies. Obama also confirmed that Ron Klain will be chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joseph Biden.

“These individuals will be essential members of our team as we work to bring Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen our struggling economy and make Washington work for all Americans,” Obama said. “I have the utmost confidence that their broad and diverse experience will serve my administration and the American people well in the challenging months.”

Schiliro has been serving as the legislative chief for the Obama transition team and was expected to be tapped as White House legislative affairs chief. He has worked on Capitol Hill for more than 25 years, a large chunk of it for Waxman. He also worked for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) before Daschle was defeated in his 2004 re-election bid. Schiliro is widely known and respected by Members on both sides of the aisle.

Jarrett, a Chicago confidant of Obama’s, worked for more than a decade for the Habitat Company, which develops residential apartments and condominiums, according to a statement by the Obama campaign. She has also served in senior positions in the Chicago city government. Klain held the chief of staff post under former Vice President Al Gore.

He also has long-standing ties to Biden, working for him in the late 1980s and early 1990s during Biden’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.