Nabors no longer has prime responsibility for Obama's agenda moving through Congress. He has moved up to be the deputy chief in charge of policy, handing the legislative portfolio to Miguel Rodriguez. But as former White House senior adviser David Axelrod notes, Nabors "still keeps a close eye on, and open line to, Congress." That is not surprising because the 42-year-old staffer is widely respected on both sides of the aisle and is better known on Capitol Hill than Rodriguez. "He understands the substance of issues and understands how to get things done," says Phil Schiliro, who worked with Nabors when Schiliro was Obama's chief legislative deputy and Nabors was at the Office of Management and Budget. Earlier, Nabors served as chief of staff for the House Appropriations Committee from 2001 until he joined the Obama team as deputy OMB director in 2009. He left OMB for a stint as a senior adviser to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel before returning to the budget office. In all his jobs, Nabors thinks the task is the same: "My job is to make sure that the president's agenda gets done," he says. Famed for his list-making, Nabors was an Army brat, growing up in three different foreign countries and six states, attending more than two dozen schools before going to Notre Dame in 1989. Perhaps because of all that upheaval, he today enjoys a reputation for imperturbability. "You can't throw yourself off a cliff just because there's a bad vote and you can't get too excited because things went your way today, because you've got to go again tomorrow."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.