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, because we face challenges unlike any we have faced in generations.
Solis, D-Calif., has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s labor policies and is on the board of American Rights at Work, a pro-labor group. Obama said Solis will be charged with improving Labor’s focus on working families as well as creating fair negotiations between unions and businesses.
LaHood, R-Ill., will bring bipartisan support to modernizing the nation’s infrastructure and upgrading public transit. He’s long been a proponent of both public transportation as well as improving biking and running trails.
Kirk is a partner at Vinson & Elkins, a Houston-based lobbying and law firm. He’ll be in charge of promoting trade while ensuring fairness for workers, Obama said.
Mills will have to address Obama’s priorities for the SBA, including spurring job growth and supporting small businesses. She’ll also have to tackle other systemic issues at SBA, such as staffing and management of its procurement programs.