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Exclusive: Top White House aide Nabors considering exit - sources

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama introduces his Peter Orszag (L), the current director of the Congressional Budget Office, as his choice fo
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama introduces his Peter Orszag (L), the current director of the Congressional Budget Office, as his choice fo

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, a key figure in fiscal talks with Congress, is considering leaving the White House next year, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Nabors, a former deputy director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget and a former head of legislative affairs, has been a top negotiator for the administration in talks with lawmakers over budget and deficit issues.

Alyssa Mastromonaco, another deputy chief of staff and a longtime Obama aide, is also thinking about an exit, sources said.

The potential departures come amid a broad staff shake-up, with long-serving Obama counselor Pete Rouse leaving soon. John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, will join the White House in January.

"Neither Rob nor Alyssa have plans to leave and reports to the contrary are inaccurate," White House spokeswoman Jamie Smith said in an email.

Sources outside the administration said Nabors has indicated he is ready to move on, and an administration official said Mastromonaco was contemplating an exit.

"After five and a half years, the thought has crossed her mind," the official said.

The two senior aides work under chief of staff Denis McDonough, who has been in the top White House job for roughly a year.

Nabors is deputy chief of staff for policy and Mastromonaco is deputy chief of staff for operations, responsible for planning presidential events, hiring staff, and overseeing the White House campus.

Many of Obama's senior advisers who worked in his administration and on his 2008 campaign have left. Climate and energy adviser Heather Zichal departed in the fall. David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who helped engineer his 2008 and 2012 electoral victories, left Obama's official orbit after the last presidential campaign.

If the two deputies depart, it would leave a diversity hole in a group of senior Obama advisers that critics say has an overabundance of white men.

Nabors, who is African-American, worked in Bill Clinton's budget office and then spent several years on Capitol Hill, serving as staff director of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, where he honed his budget skills.

"He understands the technical nature of budgeting in a way that few people understand it," former Representative David Obey, a one-time chairman of the House appropriations committee, told Reuters in an interview last year.

"Rob is very much a person who wants to be in the background. He's not somebody who's looking for a camera or a microphone. He just wants to facilitate getting the job done."

The U.S. Senate passed a two-year budget deal on Wednesday to ease automatic spending cuts and reduce the risk of a government shutdown.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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