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Top White House official leaving for State Department

Eric Ueland, also a longtime Senate GOP aide, was instrumental in securing bipartisan budget and coronavirus relief deals

As White House legislative affairs director, Eric Ueland was a fixture at the Capitol during March negotiations with congressional leaders on coronavirus relief legislation.
As White House legislative affairs director, Eric Ueland was a fixture at the Capitol during March negotiations with congressional leaders on coronavirus relief legislation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland finished a stint as White House legislative affairs director Friday and is headed to the State Department, where he will serve as a senior adviser, a White House official said.

Ueland is reportedly under consideration for undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights, a post that has been vacant since Donald Trump became president and that requires Senate confirmation.

Amy Swonger, who’s been a deputy director in the White House legislative affairs office since March 2017, has been named to replace Ueland.

Swonger has worked both in the private sector as a lobbyist and in government. She was an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when he was party whip in the early 2000s, and later worked for then-Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., after McConnell became leader. Swonger also served as a legislative affairs assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration.

Ueland has served as White House legislative affairs director since last June, and played a key role in negotiations between Congress and the White House on the two-year budget deal reached last July, appropriations legislation and several pandemic aid bills that cost trillions of dollars.

The longtime GOP staffer arrives at State during a tumultuous time for that department. In addition to diplomatic rows with China and other nations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under scrutiny from Capitol Hill after Trump’s firing of department inspector general Steve Linick, who was said to have been looking into allegations that Pompeo had misused government resources.

Prior to taking the legislative affairs post, Ueland served as deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Before that, he worked as a senior strategy officer at the Millennium Challenge Corp., and then was appointed as director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the State Department.

Early in the Trump administration, he was nominated to be undersecretary of State for management, but department leadership changed during that time and his nomination was later withdrawn. A Portland, Oregon, native, Ueland served as staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and as chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

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