|Cabinet Posts and Other Key Positions
Senate Confirms Perez as Secretary of Labor
The Senate on Thursday voted 54-46 to confirm Tom Perez as secretary of Labor. It was a party-line vote, with no Republicans supporting President Obama's nominee. Several GOP senators have charged that Perez had engaged in “ethically questionable” actions while heading the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice.
Forgoing a Fight, Senators Confirm Commerce Secretary
Senators pick their battles, and by Tuesday, members in both parties had decided not to have one with President Obama over his nomination of Penny Pritzker, the billionaire hotel heiress, to be commerce secretary. In a 97-to-1 vote, they confirmed her to join the cabinet.
Transportation and Commerce Secretary Nominees Approved by Commerce Committee
June 11, 2013 - The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nominations of Mayor Anthony Foxx, to be Secretary of Transportation, and Ms. Penny Pritzker, to be Secretary of Commerce. The votes for Mayor Foxx and Ms. Pritzker were unanimous.
Penny Pritzker Nominated as Secretary of Commerce
May 2, 2013 - President Obama rounded out his second-term cabinet choices on Thursday, nominating Penny Pritzker, his longtime financial backer and an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, to be commerce secretary, and Michael Froman, a law school friend and White House adviser on international economics, as trade representative. Ms. Pritzker, a longtime Chicago donor and fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, had been expected to be his pick for the long-vacant Commerce Department post, but vetting of her substantial financial assets and ties delayed a formal announcement, administration aides have said. She was a leading candidate for commerce secretary after Mr. Obama’s election in 2008, but withdrew from contention amid the public scrutiny at the time.
Mary Jo White Confirmed as SEC Chief
April 8, 2013 - The Senate confirmed Mary Jo White on Monday to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, and she could be behind her desk at the agency as early as Tuesday. Without fanfare, the Senate approved White by unanimous consent, signaling that because she had strong bipartisan support, an official vote count was not necessary. White must now sign presidential appointment papers and get officially sworn in before she can take the reins from the current SEC chief, Elisse B. Walter. In an e-mail to SEC employees, Walter said a ceremonial swearing-in may take place at the agency’s Washington headquarters on Friday for the staff to attend.
Obama Nominates Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary
March 18, 2013 - President Obama on Monday nominated Thomas E. Perez, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, to be the next labor secretary. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino to join Obama’s second-term Cabinet. In making the selection, Obama described Perez, 51, as a “consensus builder” and said his “story reminds us of this country’s promise.” Currently an assistant U.S. attorney general, Perez is a first-generation Dominican American and a former Montgomery County Council member. He has overseen the civil rights division in the Justice Department since 2009.
Senate Votes to Confirm Hagel
February 26, 2013 - The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief in a 58-41 vote, ending the most contentious confirmation fight for a Defense secretary in U.S. history. Only four Republicans backed Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska whose controversial statements on Israel, Iran and other issues made him a lighting rod on the right and led to the first-ever filibuster of a nominee to lead the Pentagon. GOP Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Mike Johanns (Neb.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) voted to confirm Hagel.
Karen Mills to Leave Small Business Administration
February 11, 2013 - Karen Mills, who's led the Small Business Administration since early 2009, plans to leave her position, she announced Monday. Mills plans to stay in her post -- which Obama elevated to Cabinet-level -- until a new SBA administrator is confirmed. In a statement, President Obama thanked "for her outstanding work on behalf of America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs." "Over the last four years, Karen has made it easier for small businesses to interact with the federal government by reducing paperwork and cutting through red tape," he said. "She has played a leading role in my administration’s efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs."
John Kerry Confirmed as Secretary of State
January 29, 2013 - The Senate voted 94 to 3 Tuesday to approve Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of state, with bipartisan tributes and a few words of caution. Kerry is set to formally take over from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday, becoming the 68th top U.S. diplomat and the first white male to hold the post since Warren Christopher in 1997. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Texas Republicans, along with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), voted against Kerry’s confirmation.
Obama Taps Mary Jo White to Lead SEC
January 24, 2013 - Signaling the possibility of an aggressive new strategy for regulating Wall Street, President Obama today nominated Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and high-profile prosecutor, to head up the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Obama, in remarks announcing the nomination this afternoon, lauded White for her career accomplishments -- which include prosecuting both mafia boss John Gotti and the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- and expressed confidence in her abilities to help the administration keep Wall Street in check.
Napolitano to Stay as Homeland Security Secretary
January 14, 2013 - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will remain in the same post as President Obama begins a second term, a White House official said Monday. Napolitano, who has been dealing with the recent death of her father, had planned to stay and the administration confirmed that she would on Monday. While not unexpected, her remaining in place means that most of Obama’s first-term Cabinet will begin the second term unchanged. A former governor of Arizona, Napolitano may play an important role in Obama’s push for immigration legislation, a high early priority for the administration.
Obama Nominates 'Low-Key Master of Policy' Lew for Treasury
January 10, 2013 - President Obama on Thursday officially nominated his chief of staff Jack Lew to be the next secretary of the Treasury. Obama described the Washington veteran Lew as "low-key" and a master of policy, and said he knew "very few people with greater integrity." “Jack has my complete trust, I know I am not alone in that,” Obama said. “I hope the Senate will confirm him as quickly as possible. “Over the years he has built a reputation as a master of policy who can work with both sides and forge bipartisan compromises,” Obama said.
Holder, Sebelius, Shinseki to Stay on for Second Obama Term
January 9, 2013 - Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will stay in their positions in President Obama’s second term, White House officials said Thursday. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also will remain, the officials said. In 2012, the House voted to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress for failing to provide information demanded by Republicans in a probe into a gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
Hilda Solis Resigning as Labor Secretary
January 9, 2013 - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is resigning from the Obama administration, the White House announced Wednesday. In a statement, President Obama thanked Solis "for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people." "Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class," Obama said. "Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work."
Obama Nominates Hagel for Pentagon, Picking Fight with Senate GOP
January 7, 2013 - President Obama on Monday nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to be the nation’s next defense secretary despite warnings of a tough confirmation fight from some Senate Republicans. Obama also nominated his chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to direct the CIA, where he would succeed David Petraeus, who resigned in November after revelations of an affair. By picking Hagel as his Defense secretary, Obama would have his second Republican defense chief and would add a level of bipartisanship to his Cabinet. Hagel, Brennan and Obama’s pick for secretary of State Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) would make up the core of Obama’s second-term national security team.
Obama Nominates John Kerry as Secretary of State Today
December 21, 2012 - President Obama nominated Sen. John F. Kerry to be the next secretary of state on Friday. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his selection all but guarantees a swift, smooth path to confirmation. The lawmaker has been a frequent foreign policy adviser and confidant to Obama, and his long experience means he has bipartisan advocates in the Senate. Kerry has long sought the post as America’s top diplomat but appeared to be Obama’s second choice after U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice. Rice withdrew her name from consideration this month because of Republican opposition based on her role as administration spokeswoman in the fatal Sept. 11 attack on U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Susan Rice Abandons Bid To Be the Next Secretary of State
December 14, 2012 - Susan Rice on Thursday withdrew her name from consideration as President Obama’s next secretary of State, allowing the White House to avoid a bitter confirmation battle with Senate Republicans. In a letter to Obama notifying the president of her decision, the ambassador to the United Nations said she wanted to spare the White House a heated battle with those who have criticized her over the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” she wrote. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.”
Report: Chuck Hagel Being Vetted for Top State, Defense Posts
November 29, 2012 - Former Sen. Chuck Hagel is being vetted for top security posts in the Obama administration, according to a report. Foreign Policy magazine reported on Wednesday that the Nebraska Republican is being vetted for secretary of State or Defense. Hagel, a centrist on foreign policy, has expressed support for some of the Obama administration's recent national security policies. Foreign Policy noted that Hagel has also been an outspoken critic of some of former President George W. Bush's policies on national security. He called the war in Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam."
SEC Chief Mary Schapiro to Leave in December
November 26, 2012 - Mary L. Schapiro announced on Monday that she will step down as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-December, and President Obama announced that he would designate Elisse Walter, one of the SEC’s Democratic commissioners, to replace her. Schapiro, a longtime regulator, took over as head of the agency in January 2009, when the country was steeped in financial crisis and many were pointing fingers at the SEC for botching its job as Wall Street’s main regulator. Storied investment banks had collapsed. The Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme had surfaced. And some critics wanted to shut the agency down.
Report: Holder to Stay as AG 'About a Year'
November 20, 2012 - Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to remain on in President Barack Obama's second term, but will likely only stay "for about a year" according to a report from Fox News. The president apparently asked Holder to remain on in hopes of maintaining some stability in a Cabinet expected to undergo significant changes. Expected high-profile departures include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and President Obama will also need to find a replacement for CIA Director David Petraeus, who resigned earlier this month amid an FBI investigation into an extramarital affair he was conducting with his biographer.
President Weighs Picks for Cabinet, Adviser Positions
November 18, 2012 - President Barack Obama, who is on a four-day trip through Asia, is reviewing material on reshaping his cabinet and is on track to announce some of his picks as early as the week after Thanksgiving, people familiar with his plans said. The president's top focus is on finding successors for secretaries who are preparing to leave the administration, including the secretaries of state and the Treasury, these people said. He also must fill the positions of some top West Wing advisers who are poised to depart.
Regulatory Czar Pick Could Set Tone for Obama’s Second-Term
November 15, 2012 - President Obama’s pick for regulatory czar is expected to be a telltale sign of how aggressively he plans to push rules and regulations during his second term. Business and labor, as well as a number of watchdog groups, are watching closely to see who will be Obama’s nominee for the permanent administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which oversees all federal regulations coming out of Washington.
Obama Considering John Kerry for Job of Defense Secretary
November 13, 2012 - President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
President Obama’s Cabinet: Who’s In, Who’s Out?
November 12, 2012 - Now that President Obama has secured a second term, the official Washington speculation machine — and, no, that doesn’t actually exist (or does it?) — has turned to the heavy turnover expected in his Cabinet. While only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made clear she plans to leave early in the Obama second term, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has also clearly suggested he is on his way out, and Attorney General Eric Holder has been noncommittal of late about his future plans. CIA Director David Petraeus’ stunning resignation on Friday creates another high-profile opening (although not a Cabinet-level position) for the president to fill.
Pentagon Insiders Seen as Most Likely Successors for Panetta at DoD
November 8, 2012 - Speculation over who will replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reached a fevered pitch following President Obama reelection Tuesday. After serving a full four years in the Obama administration, Panetta is expected to depart early into Obama's second term in the spring or summer of 2013, defense sources say. But before he heads back to his home in sunny Monterey, Calif., Panetta will likely help the administration through its difficult sequestration fight and usher in the 2014 defense budget that’s currently stuck in limbo over the automatic cuts.
Rep. Berman Rumored for Secretary of State Job After Losing California Seat
November 8, 2012 - The list of rumored replacements for secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a new name following Rep. Howard Berman's (D-Calif.) defeat Tuesday night.Berman, a 15-term lawmaker who lost his reelection bid in California's redrawn 30th Congressional District, is drawing support from an array of lawmakers — including the Democrat who beat him, Rep. Brad Sherman. “I have tremendous respect for the talent and experience of Howard Berman,” Sherman, who defeated Berman in a bruising intra-party fight, told The Hill via email. “I think he would do an excellent job at any top level foreign policy position that the President might ask him to undertake.”
Eric Holder Says He's Not Sure He'll Stay On
November 8, 2012 - Attorney General Eric Holder might not be sticking around for a second term. Holder told law school students at the University of Baltimore School of Law that he does not know if he will stay in his job. “That’s something that I’m in the process now of trying to determine,” Holder said. “I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?” Holder says he needs to sit down with his family and President Obama to see if he wants to continue on the job.
Obama's Cabinet: 6 Seats Likely to Change
November 8, 2012 - President Obama and his staff have been tight-lipped about possible changes to the Cabinet in a second term. But if history is a guide, Obama’s team could see substantial turnover this year: on average, in the five two-term presidencies since World War II, only one of two Cabinet officers have stayed for eight years. Some on the team, such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have already publicly said they’ll stick around. Others, including Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, have been more opaque: last summer Shinseki told The New York Times he will “serve at the pleasure of the president.”