Citing his track record as a problem solver, President Bush on Friday nominated the head of the Small Business Administration to lead the troubled Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Pending his confirmation by the Senate, Steven Preston, a former investment banker who was sworn in as head of the small-business agency in July 2006, will replace outgoing HUD chief Alphonso Jackson, who resigned last month amid allegations of cronyism that prompted a criminal investigation.

The president has credited Preston with turning the SBA around following sharp criticism of the agency's efforts to help small-business owners recover from Hurricane Katrina.

In taking over HUD, Preston would inherit another beleaguered federal agency, which is struggling to cope with rising foreclosure rates and declining home values.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said he'll be sorry to see Preston leave his post at the small-business agency.

"He's worked hard to right its course and to improve relationships with Congress," Kerry said in a statement. "We may have some differences on policy, but he's always been professional, responsive, and dedicated to the mission."