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Obama picks Fallon as new White House liaison to Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks from the briefing room of the White House in Washington February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks from the briefing room of the White House in Washington February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama appointed a Capitol Hill veteran as his new White House liaison to the U.S. Congress on Friday in an effort to advance his legislative priorities in an election year.

Obama named Katie Beirne Fallon, a deputy White House communications director and former aide to Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, to replace Miguel Rodriguez, who had been director of legislative affairs for the past two years.

Fallon's appointment comes amid strained relations between Obama and congressional Democrats. The president's legislative priorities, such as an immigration overhaul, have had a rough going in Congress amid partisan gridlock.

Obama has been lightly reshaping his White House staff in recent days for a fresh push heading into a year that will be dominated by campaigning for the November 2014 congressional elections.

Earlier this week the White House said John Podesta, who was former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, would be special counsel to Obama.

He also brought in former legislative director Phil Schiliro to help smooth out the rocky rollout of the president's signature healthcare plan.

Democratic lawmakers have bitterly complained about the botched healthcare rollout and say there has been a lack of cooperation from the White House on various legislative items.

Obama said in a statement that Fallon "has the deep expertise and strong relationships required to build on the progress we've made this year and advance my top priority: creating jobs and expanding broad-based growth and opportunity for every American."

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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