|Cabinet Posts and Other Key Positions
Pres. Obama Announces Nominees for OSHA, Wage & Hour Division
April 15, 2009—Lorelei Boylan and Thomasina Rogers are the newest presidential nominees to positions that have an effect on Total Rewards. They have been nominated by Pres. Obama to head the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, respectively.
Pres. Obama Announces Nomination of EBSA Head
Mar. 27, 2009—Pres. Obama has announced Phyllis Borzi as his nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security, who also serves as the head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Sebelius Nominated as Health and Human Services Secretary
Mar. 2, 2009—Pres. Obama announced today that he was nominating Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Prior to serving as Governor of Kansas, Sebelius served as the Kansas Insurance Commissioner from 1994-2002.
"Kathleen Sebelius has a remarkable intellect, unquestioned integrity, and the kind of pragmatic wisdom you’ll tend to find in a Kansan," Pres. Obama said as he announced the Kansas Governor as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. "I know she will bring some much-needed grace and good humor to Washington, and she will be a tremendous asset to my cabinet."
At the same time, he announced he would appoint Nancy-Ann DeParle, one of the nation’s leading experts on health care and regulatory issues, to serve as Counselor to the president and Director of the White House Office for Health Reform.
Former Washington Governor Nominated as Commerce Secretary
Feb. 26, 2009—Gary Locke, former governor of Washington, was announced yesterday as Pres. Obama’s third nominee for Secretary of Commerce. Former Governor Locke was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor.
"Gary knows the American Dream. He's lived it. And that's why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in our time," Pres. Obama said in announcing his nomination.
"The Department of Commerce plays a critical role in nurturing innovation, expanding global markets, protecting and managing our ocean fisheries, and fostering economic growth," Secretary-designate Locke said. "The Department of Commerce can and will help create the jobs and the economic vitality our nation needs."
Solis Confirmed as Secretary of Labor by Senate
Feb. 24, 2009—In a vote of 80-17 today, the Senate confirmed Hilda Solis as the new Secretary of Labor. Solis was confirmed after a tough confirmation process due to controversy over her position on the Employee Free Choice Act, her involvement in the group Americans Rights at Work, as well as her husband’s recent payment of a $6,400 tax lien that had been outstanding for 16 years.
Gregg Withdraws from Commerce Nomination
Feb. 12, 2009—Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Secretary of Commerce citing irreconcilable differences between himself and the president over the Census and various provisions in the stimulus bill. “This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle. However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me….We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy,” said Sen. Gregg in a statement.
Daschle Steps Down as HHS Nominee
Feb. 3, 2009—Former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his name as nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services today after continued scrutiny of his failure to pay over $100,000 in income taxes. The announcement comes despite continuing support from the White House and many top Senate Democrats.
“The focus of Congress should be on the urgent business of moving the President’s economic agenda forward, including affordable health care for every American,” said Daschle in a statement released to the press. “[I] will not be a distraction.”
The editorial boards of five news outlets, including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, called for Daschle to step down this morning and Senate Republicans had remained quiet about whether or not they would support his confirmation if it came to the Senate floor.
“I accept his decision with sadness and regret,” said Pres. Obama about Daschle’s decision to withdraw. “Tom Daschle has devoted his life to public service and health care reform, so that every American has access to health care they can afford. Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged. He has not excused it, nor do I. But that mistake, and this decision, cannot diminish the many contributions Tom has made to this country, from his years in the military to his decades of public service.”
Daschle has also stepped down as the head of newly created White House office of health care reform.
Obama Performance Chief Nominee Steps Down
Feb. 3, 2009—Nancy Killefer, Pres. Obama’s nominee to fill the new position of Chief Performance Officer, withdrew her name from consideration for Chief Performance Officer after it surfaced that the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax for employing two nannies and a personal assistant.
In a letter to Pres. Obama this morning, Killefer stated “I have come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. Unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay those duties must avoid.”
Eric Holder Confirmed as Attorney General
Feb. 3, 2009—In a 75-21 vote last night, Eric Holder was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s first black attorney general. Holder was easily confirmed despite Republican worries over his role in the pardon of financier Marc Rich during the Clinton administration and his views on torture.
Sen. Judd Gregg Nominated for Secretary of Commerce
Feb. 3, 2009—New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg (R) was nominated as Secretary of Commerce by Pres. Obama this morning. In return for accepting the nomination, Sen. Gregg has asked the governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, to nominate a Republican to replace him in the Senate to preserve the balance of power.
Daschle Nomination Held Up Due to Tax Errors
Feb. 2, 2009—Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle will be appearing before the Senate Finance Committee today, not for a confirmation hearing, but to explain his failure to pay $128,000 in back taxes over the past three years. Daschle has since paid what he owed.
Pres. Obama affirmed his support for his nominee in a statement released by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday stating “the president has confidence that Sen. Daschle is the right person to lead the fight for healthcare reform.” Confirmation hearings have not been scheduled by either committee (Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee) that Daschle has to pass through to reach the Senate floor for a full vote.
Geithner Confirmed as Treasury Secretary
Jan. 27, 2009—After an extended confirmation process due to controversy of the nominee Timothy Geithner’s failure to pay $34,000 in payroll taxes, Geithner was confirmed as Treasury Secretary by the full Senate this week. The vote was 60-39 to confirm and Geithner was sworn in on Monday night after the vote.
Six Nominees Confirmed by Senate
Jan. 23, 2009—Six more of Pres. Obama’s nominees were confirmed by the Senate this week. Shaun Donovan was confirmed as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, along with Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator and Nancy Sutley as chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.
In addition Ray LaHood was confirmed as secretary of Transportation and Mary Schapiro as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Eight Cabinet Positions Confirmed
Jan. 21, 2009—On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed by unanimous voice vote seven of Pres. Obama’s Cabinet level nominees. The seats that were confirmed were: Energy, Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Interior, Veterans Affairs and head of the Office of Management and Budget.
Today, the Senate also voted to confirm Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
Confirmation Hearing for Labor Secretary Nominee Goes Smoothly
Jan. 16, 2009—The confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary designate Hilda Solis in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last week went smoothly, with Solis getting bipartisan support from committee members.
In her opening statement, Solis laid out her four priorities if she were confirmed:
- Expanding the skills development and job search assistance the DOL provides to all workers
- Ensuring that American workers get the pay they have earned working in safe, healthy and fair workplaces
- Working to solve the retirement crisis by expanding retirement savings, ensuring that existing pension plans are secure, and providing retirees and workers with the information they need to make good decisions about how to invest for a future beyond work
- Making sure that the door to opportunity is open to every American regardless of race, sex, veteran status or disability.
Schapiro Vows to be Tough on Enforcement
Jan. 16, 2009—In her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, Mary Schapiro, nominee for Chairwoman of the SEC, stated that she would pursue “with full force and fervor against anyone who violates investors' trust” when addressing concerns that the SEC hasn’t been rigorous enough in their pursuit of entities that commit fraud.
The committee also asked about the proposed roadmap to bring the US in line with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Schapiro responded that, while in theory universal standards are a good thing, she had concerns about the proposed roadmap and noted that the current IFRS standards are not as detailed as US standards and that enforcement would still be different from country to country.
She also said she would seek to give large shareholders more say in naming directors of public companies and in shaping corporate governance.
Geithner Confirmation Hearing Postponed
Jan. 14, 2009—After evidence surfaced yesterday regarding Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner’s failure to pay almost $34,000 in payroll taxes over the past decade and allegations that he employed an illegal immigrant as a housecleaner, Republicans on the Senate Finance committee have objected to holding his confirmation hearing this week. Geithner’s hearing has been postponed until January 21.
“The President-elect chose Tim Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary because he’s the right person to help lead our economic recovery during these challenging times. He’s dedicated his career to our country and served with honor, intelligence and distinction. That service should not be tarnished by honest mistakes, which, upon learning of them, he quickly addressed. He made a common mistake on his taxes, and was unaware that his part-time housekeeper’s work authorization expired for the last three months of her employment. We hope that the Senate will confirm him with strong bipartisan support so that he can begin the important work of the country,” said incoming White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Obama Names Chief Performance Officer
Jan. 8, 2009—President-Elect Obama announced the creation of a new White House position, Chief Performance Officer, and nominated Nancy Killefer to fill the post, as well as the position of Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.
“During the campaign, I said that we must scour this budget, line-by-line, eliminating what we don’t need, or what doesn’t work, and improving the things that do,” said Obama. “As the first Chief Performance Officer, working with Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors at the Office of Management and Budget, Nancy Killefer is uniquely qualified to lead that effort.”
Daschle Named to New White House Office
Jan. 8, 2009—In a move that signals the importance of health care reform to President-Elect Obama, he has created a new White House office on Health Care Reform to be headed by Secretary Health and Human Services nominee, Tom Daschle. Dr. Jeanne Lambrew has been named as Deputy Director.
This new White House office will coordinate efforts within the Administration, the Congress and across the country to pass health care reform. In his two roles, Daschle will not only implement the President's vision for health care at the Department of Health and Human Services, but also have the responsibility of leading health care reform.
Richardson Withdraws as Nominee for Secretary of Commerce
Jan. 7, 2009—Citing an ongoing investigation into pay-for-play allegations between a California company and the government of New Mexico during his tenure as governor, Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name as the nominee for Secretary of Commerce.
“The Department of Commerce must play an important role in solving them by helping to grow the new jobs and businesses America so badly needs,” said Richardson. “Given the gravity of the economic situation the nation is facing, I could not in good conscience ask the President-elect and his Administration to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done.”
Obama Names New Federal Reserve Board Member
Jan. 7, 2009—President-elect has named Daniel K. Tarullo, a law professor and banking regulation expert, as his first nominee to the Federal Reserve Board. Obama will be able to appoint two more board members, also known as governors, to the Federal Reserve Board because of current expired terms. All of these nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate. In January of 2010, Obama will also have the option to reappoint or replace both the current Chairman Ben Bernanke and, in June of 2010, Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn.