Obama Administration Says Zeints to Stay in Acting OMB Position

Posted March 19, 2013 at 2:25pm

The White House said Tuesday that Jeffrey D. Zients, reportedly a candidate to become the new U.S. trade representative, will remain as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget until the Senate confirms a new director.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration does not expect trouble with the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to the OMB post but that Zeints will stay on the job there as the office navigates numerous budget issues.

“It is the case that confirmations take a certain amount of time, even when they’re smooth, and this is an enormously important agency, especially at this time,” Carney said. “The president has asked Jeff Zients to continue as acting director of OMB. He has been just an enormously valuable player on the president’s economic team.”

The Obama administration is in the midst of numerous highly complicated budget actions: The White House has said it expects to deliver its fiscal 2014 budget, already several weeks late, the week of April 8. At the same time, OMB is working with federal agencies on implementation of the budget cuts under sequester that took effect March 1.

Carney said the White House does not expect trouble with Burwell’s confirmation for the OMB post. So far, Republican senators have not raised any serious objections. Although she has been formally nominated, the Senate has not begun consideration of her nomination.

Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation, served as deputy director of OMB during the Clinton administration.

If confirmed, she would come to the White House at a difficult time as the administration tries to navigate its way around the current series of budgetary disputes and the need to address raising the debt limit this summer.

Zients has been acting OMB director since early 2012, when Jacob J. Lew, now Treasury secretary, resigned as budget director to become Obama’s chief of staff.