William Daley is stepping down as White House chief of staff and budget director Jack Lew is taking over the President Obama’s team as it heads into a tough election year, senior administration officials say…

The choice of Lew puts a veteran staffer of the White House, Capitol Hill and State Department in a critical position at a difficult time for the president. Obama hopes he can work through tough budget and economic issues with Congress this year despite fierce opposition from Republicans in the GOP-led House. Having a strong team captain who can deal with lawmakers, staffers and business leaders is considered crucial to their strategy.

But aides say Obama had faith in Daley to lead that effort, and that he had not been discussing making any changes prior to last week.