Biden picks Jeff Zients as next chief of staff

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Friday picked his former COVID-19 policy coordinator, Jeff Zients, to be the next White House chief of staff, citing his expertise in health care and the economy.

Zients will replace Biden's current chief of staff Ron Klain.

"I’ve seen Jeff Zients tackle some of the toughest issues in government," Biden said in a statement announcing the move.

Klain, a longtime aide and adviser to Democratic presidents and vice presidents, has been chief of staff to Biden since he took office in January 2021.

Klain told MSNBC his last day in the role would be Feb 8.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

"It's a choice I made and it's a break I need but it is bittersweet to leave behind so many people that I just care about so much," he told the network.

It is not unusual for presidents to replace chiefs of staff during their tenures, especially in their second term.

Zients worked on the American Recovery Act during the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president, and later was charged with fixing after the Affordable Care Act was passed.

Under Obama, he served as Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Before joining the administration, he spent 20 years in the private sector, including as a management consultant and as chief executive of Cranemere, a multibillion-dollar investment firm.

Under Biden, he previously led the COVID-19 response, a "massive logistical undertaking of historic proportions," Biden said.

Biden credited Klain, whom he described as tough, smart and persistent, with having assembled "the most diverse and the most talented White House team in history."

Reportig by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, Ismail Shakil and Costas Pitas; editing by Sharon Singleton and Aurora Ellis

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