Federal Relations

February 10, 2009

Cabinet Nominations Create Difficulties for President

The confirmation process for President-elect Obama’s remaining cabinet nominees went somewhat off track last week; as Tom Daschle’s nomination was derailed due to federal income tax issues. Mr. Daschle’s decision to withdraw from the confirmation process was seen as a significant setback by those seeking to advance health care reform later this year. The former Senate Majority Leader’s knowledge of the inner workings of Congress would have been helpful in advancing an overhaul of the nation’s health care system. The unsuccessful nomination of Tom Daschle combined with the failed nominations of Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) for Secretary of Commerce, Nancy Killefer for the new Chief Performance Officer post, delayed confirmation for Hilda Solis (D-CA) to be Secretary of Labor, as well as the tumultuous confirmation of Timothy Geithner for Secretary of Treasury has transformed a seemingly smooth transition into a period of difficulty for the President. President Obama hopes to regain footing in the confirmation process with his nomination of Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) to head the Department of Commerce. A decision on a replacement for Mr. Daschle is not expected soon, but some names mentioned by speculators as possibilities include Governors Phil Bredesen (D-TN) and Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS).