President Obama is bringing back a top former aide to coordinate policy implementation of the Affordable Care Act, White House officials said Friday night.
Phil Schiliro, the former White House director of Legislative Affairs, will return for a “short-term appointment” to help coordinate between government agencies and members of Congress as implementation moves forward.
Schiliro’s appointment comes after Democrats on Capitol Hill complained to administration officials that the botched rollout of the bill has hurt the president and the party.
During a recent caucus meeting with Senate Democrats and White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughSunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week Obama chief of staff: 'The president cannot order a wiretap' Obama's chief of staff joins foundation with focus on jobs MORE, one senator stood up and demanded the White House provide a political point of contact.
It appears that Schiliro, the legislative architect of the president’s first term agenda, will fulfill that role.
"We are focused like a laser on reducing health care costs implementing the Affordable Care Act, and Phil will be vital to ensuring it is done right,” McDonough said in a statement. “Anyone who has worked with him, knows Phil has the expertise, the wisdom, and the relationships to tackle any project – large or small. We are blessed to have him back."
Schiliro, who left the White House in 2011 to move to New Mexico, said he was returning because the law was “important to the president.”
“A law that guarantees coverage to millions of Americans, improves quality, and saves hundreds of billions of dollars is worth fighting for,” he said. “I hope to help with that effort."
Schiliro’s work will be separate from that of Jeffrey Zeints, the first former Obama official brought in to help address problems with the botched rollout. Zeints has worked to coordinate technical fixes to the ObamaCare website among government agencies and contractors.
Zients is scheduled to leave that post to become director of the National Economic Council at the end of this year, but the White House said earlier this week they would appoint a replacement. The decision to have a permanent head of the ObamaCare website also came at the urging of Senate Democrats.
"That is an important role and we have seen in the way that Jeff has worked in that role that kind of management position needs to be filled," press secretary Jay Carney said.
Schiliro has deep ties to Capitol Hill, working for Democratic lawmakers since the early 1980s. He was the chief of staff on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and held the same position in the office of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Schiliro was also the policy director to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) during his time as Democratic leader.