Exclusive-Biden aide Gamble, behind US EV, manufacturing push, to exit

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of the architects of U.S. President Joe Biden’s economic policy, Joelle Gamble, plans to leave the White House in the coming days, according to people familiar with the matter.

Gamble, the White House National Economic Council (NEC) deputy director, was a leader on the administration’s industrial policy changes, aimed at boosting private sector growth from quantum computing to semiconductor manufacturing and electric vehicles. Biden pitched the policies as key to cutting inflation, increasing economic growth and undercutting competitors abroad, especially China.

Gamble, 33, is one of the most senior Black policymakers in the administration and came from a progressive policy background.

Her election-year departure comes after Biden’s legislative accomplishments hit a wall when Republicans captured the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, and the Democratic president focuses on convincing skeptical voters, including liberal young people of color, that he deserves a second term in November’s election.

If Biden wins reelection in 2024, he may still face serious constraints on any new major economic policy as Republicans are favored to take control of the Senate.

Gamble, who is said to be leaving for family reasons, did not comment but the White House confirmed her departure. In a written statement, Biden’s top economic adviser Lael Brainard called Gamble “a rare team leader, policy architect, and coalition builder.”

Biden shuffled his economic team after the 2022 midterms and some White House officials are leaving for the reelection campaign, including onetime infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu and two top political aides, Mike Donilon and Jen O’Malley Dillon.

Gamble, part of Biden’s 2021 transition team, had a lead role in crafting what eventually became the president’s $1 trillion infrastructure law and $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act, his “Buy American” policy directing more U.S. spending toward domestic manufacturers, the effort to fix supply chains snarled during the COVID-19 pandemic, revive faded neighborhoods as economic hubs, auto sector policy and consumer medical debt.

She also served in 2022-23 as the Labor Department chief economist as the agency handled the railroad labor standoff and crafted new rules on overtime pay and gig workers.

While Biden has been unable to shake voter concerns about high prices and his industrial policy irked allies from Canada to South Korea disadvantaged by “Buy America” mandates, the U.S. economy has proven more resilient than forecast. Biden’s more union-friendly efforts also have boosted the incumbent president with labor groups that back Democratic political campaigns.

U.S. inflation has cooled without joblessness spiking, a “soft landing” officials credit partly to policies easing transportation bottlenecks, bringing more workers to the job site and boosting the capacity of the U.S. economy to produce more goods and services over the long run.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who hired Gamble at Labor, said “it’s hard to say” whether Biden’s second term will bring a more centrist economic approach.

“The administration isn’t getting its due. It will at some point, and it will hopefully around election time,” he said.

The White House is expected to announce Gamble’s replacement in the coming weeks.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Bill Berkrot)

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