Clinton stresses change in appointing 3 women More Cabinet picks could come today

December 12, 1992|By Paul West | Paul West,Washington Bureau Chief

LITTLE ROCK, ARK — LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Youth and change were the message yesterday as President-elect Bill Clinton showcased a second round of top appointees, including the first woman to head the president's Council of Economic Advisers.

The new administration is rolling out its Cabinet members at an accelerating pace, with another round of announcements expected soon, possibly as early as today.

Yesterday, Donna E. Shalala, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, was the choice for secretary of health and human services, making her the first woman in the Clinton Cabinet. Robert B. Reich, a Harvard economics lecturer, was selected to be secretary of labor.

Others named were University of California-Berkeley economist LauraD'Andrea Tyson, to chair the three-member Council of Economic Advisers, and Carol M. Browner, head of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Clinton indicated yesterday that he favors giving the EPA Cabinet rank and said Ms. Browner would be seated at his Cabinet table while a measure to enhance the agency's status is pending in Congress.

Generational change and gender diversity were clearly the themes the Clinton team hoped to convey with the latest selections. Mr. Clinton has pledged to appoint a more diverse Cabinet than President Bush, who currently has three women of Cabinet rank in his administration.

The president-elect is reported to favor naming a woman as attorney general, the first time a woman has been selected for one of the four major Cabinet jobs at the departments of State, Defense, Treasury and Justice.

He refused yesterday to say whether he was committed to giving a woman or minority one of those four posts, and he took issue with the traditional ranking, indicating that he considered the Department of Health and Human Services a major agency because of the size of its budget.

To date, no minorities have been named, although a third round of appointments is likely soon, perhaps as early as today. Among those expected to be named is former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Mexican-American, as secretary of housing and urban development. Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald H. Brown, who is black, arrived here last night and is also expected to get a high-level appointment.

Rep. Mike Espy, a Mississippi Democrat, is under consideration to become secretary of agriculture, and Judge Amalya L. Kearse of the Circuit Court of Appeals in New York is the current favorite to become attorney general, NBC reported. Both are black.

Mr. Clinton's transition director, Warren Christopher, is reported to be the front-runner to head the State Department. And Rep. Les Aspin of Wisconsin is the leading candidate for secretary of defense.

Today will be Mr. Clinton's last as governor of Arkansas, a position he has held for 10 of the past 12 years. At a statehouse ceremony this afternoon, he will resign the office, turning it over to his lieutenant governor, Jim Guy Tucker, also a Democrat.

In striking contrast to the senior economic team announced Thursday -- mostly older, established, white men -- yesterday's appointees were younger, more liberal and primarily women.

Most in the latest group are baby boomers like Mr. Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore. Their remarks at the Old State House included references to their young children, and the cry of an infant could be heard from the section of seats reserved for family and friends of the appointees.

Perhaps the strongest signal sent by the latest picks, however, was one of networking and its particular importance in this new administration. Three of the four new appointees have strong personal ties to either Mr. Clinton, his wife, Hillary, or Mr. Gore.

Mr. Reich, described by Mr. Clinton as "one of my most trusted advisers and one of my closest friends," has known the president-elect for 24 years, since they were Rhodes scholars together.

Although he had been expected to get a White House job, Mr. Reich wanted a post in which he could more directly implement government programs, a senior transition aide said. At the Labor Department, he will have responsibility for job training and education, one of the priorities of the Clinton economic program and an area in which he has influenced the president-elect's thinking.

Ms. Shalala noted that she and her friend, Mrs. Clinton, had "spent most of our adult lives, often together," working on children's issues. Ms. Shalala chairs the Children's Defense Fund, a post previously held by Mrs. Clinton. But Mrs. Clinton, who is keeping a low profile in spite of her influential role in the personnel process, did not attend the announcement ceremony.

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