Obama cabinet update: Napolitano out, two nominees still in limbo

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will leave President Barack Obama’s cabinet to become president of the University of California system, the administration announced Friday. Nanette Asimov wrote a good account of the challenges she’ll face in her new position. Napolitano was rumored to have wanted Attorney General Eric Holder’s job during Obama’s second term. The White House hasn’t announced her replacement yet, but Juliet Eilperin and Aaron Blake speculated about sixteen possible candidates. Half the names on that wide-raging list were unfamiliar to me. I hope Obama doesn’t tap either former Senator Joe Lieberman or former Representative Jane Harman.

Meanwhile, two highly qualified people nominated for cabinet positions in March have yet to receive up or down votes in the full Senate. Fox News Latino reported on July 12 that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try to get a confirmation vote on Thomas Perez for secretary of labor this week. Perez faces strong opposition among Senate Republicans. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is lobbying hard for his confirmation; that group’s leader and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have criticized the president “for not appointing more Hispanics to his administration.”

I haven’t seen any details about a confirmation vote for Gina McCarthy, Obama’s nominee as chief administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. I’ve been pessimistic about her chances, but Darren Goode reported for Politico earlier this month that McCarthy “seems likely” to win confirmation, thanks to a few Republicans who may not like the president’s environmental agenda, but “have traditionally opposed filibustering presidential nominees.” His word in God’s ear, as the Yiddish proverb goes. Goode’s piece also noted that McCarthy has faced “a record delay for a nominee to head EPA” and that Bob Perciasepe has now served as acting EPA administrator for an unprecedented amount of time in the EPA’s 40-year history. The Senate has never rejected a president’s choice for that cabinet position.

Any comments on the Obama administration are welcome in this thread.

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  • Nuclear option likely?

    According to an email from Jeff Merkley’s campaign (D-OR):

    Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to vote to break Republican filibusters on seven nominees for critical positions. If Republican Senators continue to block any of them, Leader Reid is prepared to change Senate rules so that the minority is no longer able to block votes on executive branch nominees. He is confident he has at least 51 votes.

    To change the filibuster rules tomorrow, the Senate would vote that its interpretation of its own rules mean that executive branch nominees are not subject to a supermajority vote to end debate.

    Apparently this will only apply to executive branch nominees, not judges.

    • I predict they cave

      after getting some empty promises from a handful of Republican senators. But if they take this step, it will be long overdue.