Browsing: Transition

Obama names four assistant attorneys general


President Obama has just filled four assistant attorney general slots: David Kris is assistant AG for national security. Tony West is assistant AG for the Justice Department’s civil division. Lanny Breuer is assistant AG for Justice’s criminal division. Christine Varney is assistant AG for the antitrust division. Kris was associate deputy attorney general from 2000 to 2003, where he supervised the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. But Kris had serious reservations about the Bush administration’s legal justifications for warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and residents, and went public with his concerns three years after leaving Justice.…

Committee apologizes for inaugural snafu


If you had a ticket for Tuesday’s inauguration and couldn’t get in, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies would like to apologize. The Washington Post reported today that nearly 4,000 ticketholders, most in the blue or purple sections, were shut out of the inauguration by police officers who said the sections were full, despite visitors lining up at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. At one point, the line for one of the gates stretched into the Interstate 395 tunnel underneath the Reflecting Pool. Ticketholders reported that officers weren’t receiving communications from others regarding the situation and crowds began to…

Senate committee approves Clinton nomination


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning approved Hillary Clinton’s nomination to be Secretary of State on a 16 to 1 vote. Clinton must now face a vote before the entire Senate, but she enjoys strong support among her former colleagues and her confirmation is expected.

Berry to OPM? Not so fast


The speculation that President-elect Barack Obama has all but named National Zoo Director John Berry to be the next Office of Personnel Management director may be a little premature. Federal Times has just learned that Berry told a Senate staffer yesterday that Obama has not offered him the job yet, though he has been engaged in preliminary discussions with the transition team. So while it looks like Berry is indeed in the running, OPM is not as close to having a new boss as we thought yesterday.

Senator: Management of State top priority for Clinton


I just got off a conference call with Sen. Robert Casey, D-Penn., about his meeting today with Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton. Casey, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will consider Clinton’s nomination Jan. 13, said he is very pleased with the direction Clinton wants to take State and expects she’ll be easily confirmed. Most of today’s meeting dealt with State’s management, budget and personnel issues, Casey said, which will be among Clinton’s primary concerns. And one of Clinton’s first actions at State will be to elevate management issues to the deputy secretary level.…

Daschle kicks off confirmation hearings


Former Sen. Tom Daschle’s appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today marked the first confirmation hearing for the slate of Senate confirmable nominees named by President-elect Barack Obama over the past two months. During the hearing, which marked Chairman Edward Kennedy’s return to Capitol Hill after treatment for a brain tumor, Daschle repeatedly emphasized his commitment to improving efficiency and innovating America’s health care system. Senators also challenged him to improve civil servants’ morale within HHS and to make the department more effective and accountable. Daschle spoke of the health crisis facing Native Americans, citing that…

Sanjay Gupta for surgeon general?


That’s the word on the Hill and in today’s newspapers, and CNN has all but confirmed that its medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, will be President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for surgeon general. When word spread yesterday that Obama had discussed the position with Gupta, it led to a lot of head scratching and “really?” comments on the Hill. Though a distinguished Atlanta neurosurgeon and professor, Gupta is best known to most Americans as a prolific television commentator. However, he served as an adviser to the Clinton White House, helping craft health care speeches and policy for Hillary Clinton. According to…

Obama presents four new nominees


President-elect Barack Obama took to the stage Friday afternoon in Chicago to announce four nominees for labor and transportation positions: Rep. Hilda Solis as labor secretary, Rep. Ray LaHood as transportation secretary, former Dallas secretary Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative and Maine venture capitalist Karen Mills to lead the Small Business Administration. With labor and transportation announced, Obama rounded out his Cabinet today and took a moment to brag about his speediness in filling the Cabinet. With these outstanding appointees, I have filled out our economic team, and done so at an earlier point than any President in history,…

Tell Daschle how to fix health care


Tom Daschle, the nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, wants to know how you’d change the nation’s health care system. That’s according to an e-mail sent by John Podesta, co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. He’s inviting people to create health care forum discussions about what needs to be changed and promises the transition team will take those opinions seriously. “Secretary-designate Daschle is committed to reforming health care from the ground up, which is why he won’t just be reading the results of these discussions — he’ll be attending a few himself,” Podesta wrote in the e-mail, sent…

Brennan bows out of CIA consideration


MSNBC is reporting that John Brennan has just taken his name out of the running to be the next Director of Central Intelligence. Speculation that Brennan, a member of president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, was a leading candidate to run the CIA sparked serious criticism from some who believed Brennan supported torturing terrorism suspects. In today’s letter to Obama, Brennan firmly denied those accusations: It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush Administration such as the preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding. The…