Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Obama, has been tapped to lead the process of selecting a Supreme Court nominee and getting that person confirmed, a White House official said Monday.
A veteran of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Deese played a key role in the 2009 auto bailouts, served as acting director of the White House’s budget office and led Obama’s climate change efforts in the president's second term.
Deese was also a key player on the White House team that completed a sweeping budget deal last fall with then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio).
“The president has relied on Brian in a number of critical situations to do important work and to take on important projects," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said later Monday. “Given Brian’s performance in those other priorities, I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that he would be tapped for this responsibility too.”
Deese began his work on the Supreme Court process last week, Earnest said.
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston will be in charge of the legal elements of the process, including the researching and vetting of potential nominees.
The group will report to Obama and his chief of staff, Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughObama's chief of staff joins foundation with focus on jobs Chicago mayor visits White House to meet with Trump aides Obama staffers challenged to WH scavenger hunt on final day MORE, on a “regular basis,” according to the official.
Obama faces a litany of obstacles in pushing his nominee through the nomination process. Citing November’s elections, Senate Republicans have pledged to not give consideration to any Obama pick. They say the next president should choose a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative voice on the bench.
But the White House has sought to show Obama is taking the process seriously. He’s meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Trump Administration has definitely not drained the swamp How does placing sanctions on Russia help America? THE MEMO: Trump's wild first month MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFlynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report Gorsuch hearing date set for March 20 Judiciary Committee wants briefing, documents on Flynn resignation MORE (R-Iowa) on Tuesday with the hopes of persuading them to consider his nominee.
The White House is also looking to a number of former top officials to help the push. Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager in 2012, and Katie Beirne Fallon, who recently left her post as legislative affairs director, are among the group, The New York Times reported.
-- This report was updated at 1:44 p.m.