Senate delays by a day vote on Clinton in Cabinet

6 other secretaries, budget director are confirmed by voice vote

January 21, 2009|By Janet Hook | Janet Hook,Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The Senate, acting within hours of President Barack Obama's inauguration, confirmed six of his Cabinet secretaries and his budget director, but postponed for one day a vote on the nomination of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, had objected to approving Clinton's nomination by voice vote - as the other nominees were yesterday - because he said he had continuing concerns about potential conflicts arising from foreign donations to the foundation of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Cornyn wanted more debate on the issue and a recorded vote, which was scheduled for today. Clinton is expected to be confirmed by a wide margin.

Senate leaders have been trying to follow a tradition of putting a new president's Cabinet in place as quickly as possible. Those confirmed yesterday by voice vote, without any debate, were:

* Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, as energy secretary.

* Arne Duncan, Chicago public schools chief, as education secretary.

* Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary.

* Peter Orszag as head of the Office of Management and Budget.

* Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, as interior secretary.

* Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary.

* Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary.

Other major Cabinet nominations that are still pending, but are expected to be confirmed soon, include Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general. He faces questions from Republicans about his role in controversial pardons at the end of Bill Clinton's presidency.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's nomination to be health and human services secretary has been delayed because Republicans want to examine his tax records.

Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner's confirmation hearing was postponed until today amid questions about his failure to pay payroll taxes for several years.

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