Obama’s second-term Cabinet takes shape

Updated
This digital composite shows photos: (Top, L) US Secretary of State John Kerry at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 23, 2013. (Photo by John Thys...
This digital composite shows photos: (Top, L) US Secretary of State John Kerry at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 23, 2013. (Photo by John Thys...
Moshe Milner GPO via Getty Images

President Obama announced on Monday Mayor Anthony Foxx as his nomination for the next secretary of transportation. Foxx, currently the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., will assume the role if the Senate confirms his nomination.

Obama’s newest nominee comes after he was accused earlier this year by both Republicans and Democrats for appointing all-male Cabinet members and not diversifying the executive leaders during his second term.

Cabinet members who left after the president’s first term, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been replaced by white males. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was rumored to be in the running for secretary of state this year before former Sen. John Kerry was appointed the position. Rice, an African-American, was charged by Republican senators in the wake of the Benghazi attacks for using talking points provided by the CIA.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge escalated her campaign in March to urge the president to choose African-Americans for his Cabinet. “The people you have chosen to appoint in this new term have hardly been reflective of this country’s diversity,” Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, wrote in a March 11 letter.

In defense of the criticisms, the president urged Americans not to rush to judgment about his second-term Cabinet replacements.

“I’m very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and a Cabinet than any in history,” Obama said earlier this year. “I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you’re going to end up with a diverse staff.”


By mid-December 2012 there were at least 135 presidential nominations to executive posts and 35 nominations to judegeships languished in the Senate, unconfirmed, for more than six months. With the Congress failing to confirm candidates, President Obama filled just 64.4% of those posts, compared to previous presidents such as former President Ronald Reagan who filled 86.4% of the jobs, according to The Atlantic.

The Cabinet includes the vice president and leaders of 15 executive departments. The current 16-member Cabinet is comprised of three women, one Japanese-American, and two African-Americans, if the Senate confirms Foxx.

Here is a look at other new members for the president’s second term.

New members:

John Kerry, Secretary of State

He was sworn in as the 68th  secretary of state on Feb. 1 after serving 28 years in the Senate. Kerry was also the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2004. He replaced Clinton, who served during Obama’s first term.

“Over these many years, John’s earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job-training,” Obama said in December 2012 when he nominated Kerry.

Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary

He was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 27 to serve as the 76th  treasury secretary. His previous appointment was as the White House chief of staff. Prior to that role he was the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position he held in former President Clinton’s Cabinet from 1998 to 2001.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense

Hagel became the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense when he was sworn in as its secretary on Feb. 27 after a contentious confirmation battle in the Senate. His nomination became a point of contention among a vocal group of Senate Republicans, who criticized Hagel’s Jan. 31 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for being unprepared. He also faced tough questioning over accusations of being too soft on Iran and too hard on Israel.

The Senate eventually voted at the end of February to break a nearly two-week filibuster that began over Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s response to their request for information about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in September 2012. Hagel had no role in formulating the administration’s response to the Benghazi siege because he was employed in the private sector since his retirement from Congress in 2009.

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior

She was sworn in as the 51st interior secretary on April 12 and was the first woman chosen to join Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Prior to her appointment, she worked in the private sector as president and chief executive officer of Recreation Equipment, Inc., more commonly referred to as REI.

“She brings an important mix of strong management skills, appreciation for our nation’s tradition of protecting our public lands and heritage, and a keen understanding of what it means to be good stewards of our natural resources,’’ Obama said of Jewell.

Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy

On April 18 the Senate approved President Obama’s March nomination of Ernest Moniz for secretary of energy. But five days later, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina blocked the vote to protest proposed budget cuts to a nuclear processing facility in Graham’s home state. Graham is expected to meet with Moniz, who formerly served as an undersecretary in the Energy Department in the Clinton administration.

Interim:

Seth Harris, Acting Secretary of Labor

Hilda Solis, the country’s first Hispanic labor secretary, resigned on Jan. 22. Her departure meant one less woman in the Cabinet. Deputy Secretary Harris took over as the acting secretary.

Possible appointees:

Penny Pritzker for Secretary of Commerce

Pritzker is currently the chairman and CEO of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group. She is also a hotel magnate, and longtime friend and fund-raiser to President Obama. Rebecca Blank is currently the acting deputy secretary of commerce, a position she has held since June 2012.

Michael Froman for Trade Representative

He is currently the international economics adviser who, if nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, would replace Ambassador Demetrios Marantis. The position is not one of the main Cabinet assignments, but it has the same rank. Marantis assumed the duties of acting trade representative on March 15.

Veteran Obama Cabinet members:

Vice President Joseph Biden

Eric Holder Jr., Attorney General

Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of the Agriculture

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security

Obama's second-term Cabinet takes shape

Updated