WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has tapped Gene Sperling, a veteran economic policy expert who worked under the previous two Democratic presidents, to oversee the implementation of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Sperling’s role as the American Rescue Plan czar at Monday’s press briefing, confirming earlier reports from USA TODAY and others.
Sperling served as director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy under former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He also worked as a senior official for Treasurer Secretary Larry Summers in the Clinton administration and founded the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning policy think tank.
“Gene has spent more than a decade at the highest level of government,” Psaki said, calling his background ideal for the breadth of the sweeping plan. “The president felt it was important to have a point person who could, of course, pull all of these levers.”
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In his new position, Sperling is tasked with working with heads of the White House policy councils and other federal agencies to expedite the delivery of funds from the plan, which Biden signed into law last week. Sperling will partner with state and local governments to accelerate that work.
The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, $350 billion in aid for state and local governments, $130 billion for school reopenings, money for vaccines and a boost in child tax credits, among a host of other spending aimed at the poor and working class.
“It’s one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said Friday at a White House celebration with fellow Democrats after signing the bill into law Thursday. “It’s going to be another thing to implement it. It’s going to require fastidious oversight.”
Sperling did not respond to a request for a comment. The Washington Post first reported Sperling’s addition.
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The job is envisioned as similar to the role then-vice president Biden held overseeing Obama’s American Recovery Act in 2009. As NEC director under Obama, Sperling oversaw the federal government’s efforts to steer Detroit out of bankruptcy and efforts to help small businesses amid the Great Recession.
Sperling was previously speculated as a possibility for Biden’s new nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget after Neera Tanden withdrew from consideration amid a backlash over previous combative tweets. The White House has not provided a timeline for making a new nomination for that position.
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Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.