Report: Top economic adviser Sperling might soon depart White House

National Economic Council director Gene Sperling has told associates that he could soon depart from his job as one of President Obama's top economic advisers, according to a report from Fox Business Network.

The network also reported that if Sperling — the first person to serve as NEC director under two separate presidents — does decide to leave the Obama administration, he will likely be replaced by former acting Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients.

Sperling has played a central role on the Obama administration's economic team, representing the president in budget negotiations with Congress as well as designing the president's jobs bill. It is not clear whether Sperling will wait to depart until after lawmakers handle looming battles over the debt ceiling and federal budget.

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Sperling could be best remembered for a dustup with veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who said during an interview on CNN that Sperling made him "very uncomfortable" when, in an email, he said the reporter would "regret" questioning the White House account of how sequestration originated.

The email exchange was later leaked to the press, and revealed that Sperling had struck a conciliatory tone. In a subsequent interview with ABC News, Sperling said that he hoped "that him and I can put this behind us.”

“I’ve known Bob Woodward for twenty years. We’ve had a very friendly and respectful relationship. I think virtually everybody who has looked at my email to him and his reply to me thought those emails reflected that degree of respect and politeness,” Sperling said. 

Sperling's exit might be accelerated by the departure of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earlier this year. Geithner brought him into the White House as an adviser, after the pair previously worked together in the Clinton administration. Fox Business reported that if Sperling leaves, he is likely to take a private-sector job.

Before joining the Obama administration, Sperling worked as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.