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Brian Deese, top economic adviser to Biden, to resign

The president said Deese played a key role in passing pandemic relief, infrastructure, computer chip manufacturing and tax, climate and health care bills.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, speaks in the White House Press Briefing Room on July 2, 2021.
Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, speaks at the White House on July 2, 2021.Michael Brochstein / Sipa USA via AP file

The White House on Thursday announced the departure of Brian Deese, who was the director of the National Economic Council and helped execute President Joe Biden’s economic policies in his first two years in office.

In a statement announcing Deese’s departure, Biden praised Deese for his efforts to “rebuild the economy” during the Covid pandemic.

“For the past two years, I have relied on Brian Deese to help me do just that. Brian has a unique ability to translate complex policy challenges into concrete actions that improve the lives of American people,” he said. “He has helped steer my economic vision into reality and managed the transition of our historic economic recovery to steady and stable growth.”

Biden said Deese played a key role in passing sweeping economic legislation that he signed into law, including pandemic relief, infrastructure, computer chip manufacturing and tax, climate and health care bills.

Deese’s replacement has not been announced, and it is not clear when his resignation takes effect. He is leaving as Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., clash over the debt ceiling.

In an interview Thursday with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle, Deese said the economic recovery from the pandemic has "defied lots of projections and lots of odds."

"We have a stronger and more resilient labor market and stronger and more resilient consumers and businesses across the United States," Deese said.

He also reiterated calls for Congress to lift the debt limit before the Treasury Department exhausts its "extraordinary measures," warning that even the threat of a default could "cause widespread financial panic, crashing of the stock market, really economic calamity."

"It’s a really bleak picture and one that we don’t need to even get close to," he added. "Every Congress in history has done their duty and obligation to do this. We could take that kind of uncertainty off the table."

Deese’s appointment to his White House post did not require Senate confirmation. In a December 2020 statement naming Deese as an economic adviser, Biden said he is “a trusted voice I can count on to help us end the ongoing economic crisis, build a better economy that deals everybody in, and take on the existential threat of climate change in a way that creates good-paying American jobs.”

Before he worked in the Biden White House, Deese was the head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.

During the Obama administration, Deese was the deputy director of the National Economic Council, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. He joined the White House after having worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Deese was also a senior adviser to Obama on issues related to climate change and energy. He played a key role in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a landmark climate change deal in which 190 countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement in 2017. Within hours of having been sworn in on the steps of the Capitol in 2021, Biden reversed Trump’s decision by signing an executive order for the U.S. to rejoin the climate accord.