White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is taking heat from moderate Democrats and leaders in Congress over President Joe Biden’s failure to move key administrative priorities forward.
Klain is widely seen as a friend to the progressive wing of the party that pushes ideas such as universal healthcare and defunding police departments. The White House chief of staff’s apparent cozy disposition toward the Democratic Party’s extreme Left has soured many of the party’s moderate members, according to reports.
NBC News interviewed dozens of administration officials, congressional officials, and Democratic allies on Klain’s popularity on Capitol Hill. According to the outlet:
The main criticisms of Klain, whether from current or former Biden staff members or those who consider themselves allies of the president, flow from a single idea: that Biden has strayed from his core brand as a pragmatic, empathetic politician who won the Democratic nomination as a moderate willing to compromise. They see Klain as the person responsible for that. His ubiquitous presence on Twitter has solidified that view, particularly for those who see it as being out of step with a 2020 campaign that deliberately tuned out cable news pundits and “blue checks” on social media.
The White House defended Klain’s record to NBC News, saying that much criticism of the White House chief of staff is driven by “politics, personal score-settling and constraints that the coronavirus has put on Biden’s ability to reach out,” according to NBC News.
A Politico report echoed the reported anti-Klain view of many Democrats. At one point last fall as Biden’s agenda was stalling in Congress, one Democratic lawmaker said “Ron Klain should be fired.” Politico reported:
For months, moderate Democrats in Congress have complained that Klain is overly deferential to their liberal colleagues, to the point where some members and Hill staff privately said he needed to be replaced. With Biden’s domestic agenda stalling out, the Covid pandemic lingering and inflation rising, second guessing of his leadership is now coming from a wider swath of the party and even some corners of the administration.
“The president was elected because we all thought he was going to be good at governing,” said a House Democratic lawmaker, who spoke candidly about Klain on condition of anonymity. “He was going to govern from the center, he was going to work with Republicans. And to have a chief of staff that apparently has decided that he’s going to be Bernie Sanders, I think that’s confusing. It’s just not helpful.”
Klain is arguably most active publicly on Twitter where he serves as one of the White House’s chief apologists, pushing Biden’s message and defending the president’s record. Klain’s Twitter usage has also put the White House in difficult positions.
Klain once retweeted a post that referred to Biden’s order mandating large employers vaccinate or regularly test their employees for COVID-19 as “the ultimate work-around” to problematic constitutional issues. That post has made repeat appearances in legal challenges to Biden’s rule as critics attack it as unconstitutional.