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President-Elect Obama Moves Quickly to Fill Cabinet and Agency Posts

Nov 24, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama is moving quickly to determine who will hold key positions in the next administration. He has already selected U.S. House Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) to be his Chief of Staff, and some selections for key Cabinet posts, such as former Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services, have been leaked to the press but not yet formally announced. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is a likely appointment as Secretary of State.

One key position for IDFA, the Secretary of Agriculture, remains unclear. It appeared that former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa was the frontrunner, but he told the Des Moines Register this week that he is not being considered. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the current Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Lampson (D-SD) may be in the mix. Former Congressman Charlie Stenholm, who has worked as a consultant for IDFA, might have been on the short list, but his selection now seems unlikely, because President-elect Obama has placed a ban on hiring lobbyists.

President-elect Obama has named Bart Chilton, who currently serves as a Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner, and Carole Jett, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service civil servant, to lead his transition team for USDA. The team will have input into more than 300 political positions at USDA, including the Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service with oversight over dairy markets and regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration, at the Department of Health and Human Services is under the transition team leadership of Bill Corr and Nicole Lurie. Corr is the Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit national advocacy organization focused on reducing tobacco use among children and adults and was previously Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Lurie is the Director of Public Health Preparedness and Infrastructure, at the RAND Corporation and prior to that was a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Minnesota Department of Health. There are fewer than ten political positions to be filled at FDA, including the Commissioner and the Assistant Commission for Legislation.

"The people who fill the political appointments at these agencies will make a significant difference in how policy and regulations are determined under the next administration, said Ruth Saunders, senior director of policy and legislative affairs. "IDFA has given input to the transition teams and will establish relationships once new positions are filled."


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