White House adds two House veterans to legislative affairs team
The White House is adding two veteran House aides to its legislative affairs shop, bolstering its staff after the departure of a key aide last month.
Ashley Jones will replace Shuwanza Goff as the top legislative liaison to the House after Goff left to take a lobbying job. Jones, who has worked as a special assistant to the president since President Biden took office, spent years working in the House for then-Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Lee Slater, who previously worked as a top aide to Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), will also join the Office of Legislative Affairs as deputy director. Slater replaces Chris Slevin, who shifted over to the Commerce Department to work for Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Louisa Terrell, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, praised Jones and Slater for their work in helping to pass key legislation during the past two years, including the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
“They will both be valuable conduits to the House as we work together to build on President Biden’s record and continue to ensure that our economy works from the bottom-up and the middle-out, not the top-down,” Terrell said.
White House chief of staff Jeff Zients said the administration “will continue to rely on their deep Hill relationships and strategic talent in their new roles.”
The departure of Goff was seen as a significant loss for the White House. Goff was a former aide for Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a longtime member of House Democratic leadership, and she had deep relationships on Capitol Hill as the president sought to push legislation through narrow majorities in Congress during the past two years.
Republicans took over the majority in the House following last November’s midterm elections, while Democrats added one seat to their Senate majority, giving the party a 51-49 edge in the upper chamber.
The additions also come a week after some House Democrats expressed frustration at the White House for what they viewed as a lack of communication over how Biden planned to handle a resolution of disapproval undoing a Washington, D.C., crime bill.
The majority of House Democrats voted against the resolution, believing Biden would veto it on the grounds that it went against the concept of home rule for the District. But Biden later told Senate Democrats he would not veto the bill, something House lawmakers felt was not clearly communicated to them before their vote.
Several House Democrats on Wednesday offered their praise for the additions of Jones and Slater to the legislative affairs office.
“Ashley Jones has strong Hill relationships and has been integral to helping pass the historic achievements of the last two years,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said in a statement.
‘She listens. She is available to members 24/7. I have talked to her at 5 am. Midnight. Saturdays and Sundays. She understands the complex dynamics of the House and her skills and talent in her new role will be critical for the legislative team.”
Neal, Slater’s old boss, said his former staffer would be a “central connector” who would help the White House implement the laws that were passed in the last two years.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) pointed to Slater’s work securing the Presidential Medal of Freedom for civil rights activist Fred Gray Sr. and getting the White House to increase the federal government’s cost sharing after major storms hit Alabama.
“I look forward to the progress that lies ahead thanks to Lee’s new leadership role in the Office of Legislative Affairs,” Sewell said.
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