December 21, 1996 in Nation/World

Clinton Fills Cabinet, With Nod To Diversity

Ron Fournier Associated Press
 

Juggling candidates in an eleventh-hour bid for diversity, President Clinton shifted Transportation Secretary Federico Pena to the Energy Department Friday and nominated Arkansan Rodney Slater to succeed him.

Plugging the last holes in his second-term Cabinet, the president also selected Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, for housing secretary and White House aide Alexis Herman to be labor secretary.

The nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.

Slater and Herman are black, giving Clinton three blacks in the 14-member Cabinet. But it was the abrupt addition of Pena that showed how much Clinton wanted to appoint a Cabinet that, as he said in 1992, “looks like America.”

In a series of late-night meetings Thursday, the president had settled on a tentative list of nominees that had federal regulator Elizabeth Moler penciled in as Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary’s replacement.

After the names seeped outside his tight inner circle, Clinton decided to reconsider the list because no Hispanics were slated for Cabinet posts. Hispanic Rep. Esteban Torres, D-Calif., had been mentioned for labor, but he wasn’t getting the job.

With Thursday turning into Friday, the president swapped Moler for Pena. Aides argued that Pena, 49, is a stronger manager with more agency experience, but conceded that Clinton was looking for a Hispanic. Though Pena wanted out of transportation, he was never ruled out for other Cabinet posts, aides said.

The president said he did not buckle to special-interest groups.

“The pressure was pressure I put on myself,” he said at a news conference unveiling domestic policy appointments. “I believe that one of my jobs at this moment in history is to demonstrate with the team I put together that no group of people should be excluded from service to our country.”

The about-face overshadowed his other choices:

Slater, 41, has been a rising star since Clinton brought him into his Arkansas administration. As federal highway administrator, he traveled more than 300,000 miles and operated a $20 billion budget. Slater told reporters that the transportation agency “is more than about concrete, asphalt and steel. It’s about people - how they get to work, how they visit friends. It’s about how they pursue happiness.”

Herman, 49, runs the White House’s public liaison office, charged with energizing and soothing Democratic constituencies, including minorities. “She is my eyes and ears” to the business and labor communities, Clinton said. Herman, once dubbed “the queen of schmooze” for winning over roomfuls of political types, said: “I understand work, and I understand workers.”

Cuomo, 38, is an assistant secretary at HUD. Stepping from his father’s shadow, Cuomo pledged to help Clinton fulfill “the promise of a stronger and sweeter tomorrow.” His marriage to a Kennedy heiress, Kerry Kennedy, was dubbed “Cuomolot.”

Clinton bucked labor groups to appoint loyal aide Herman. And Cuomo was considered too abrasive and inexperienced by a faction within the administration.

Clinton put four blacks, two Hispanics, three women and no Republicans in his 1992 Cabinet. Counting newly nominated, returning members and Friday’s choices, the second-term Cabinet would have three blacks, one Hispanic, four women and a Republican.

In another nod to Hispanics, Clinton named Aida Alvarez, director of federal housing enterprise oversight at HUD, to replace Small Business Administration Director Phil Lader.

Clinton had already nominated Rep. Bill Richardson, a Hispanic Democrat from New Mexico, to be U.N. secretary.

In other developments, Clinton selected:

Federal Reserve Board member Janet Yellen to replace Joseph Stiglitz as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Bruce Reed, a centrist Clinton aide, to be domestic policy adviser, replacing Carol Rasco, who is moving to the Education Department.

Former chief of staff Mack McLarty, to be special envoy to Latin America, with a seat on Clinton’s National Economic Council.

Clinton also formally extended the terms of returning Education Secretary Richard Riley, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Last week, he gave Attorney General Janet Reno, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Health and Human Services Donna Shalala extended terms.

With those members returning, Clinton had seven vacancies to fill after winning re-election. Going into Friday’s announcement, he had already nominated Madeleine Albright for secretary of state, William Cohen for defense secretary and Bill Daley for commerce.

The biggest personnel task now facing Clinton is finding a replacement for White House counsel Jack Quinn, who recently announced his resignation as the administration’s top lawyer and scandal troubleshooter.

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. THE NOMINEES Federico F. Pena/Energy Age: 49. Education: University of Texas, University of Texas School of Law. Experience: Secretary of Transportation since 1993. Colorado house of representatives; mayor of Denver, 1983-91. Family: Married to Ellen Hart; two daughters.

Alexis Herman/Labor Age: 49. Education: Xavier University, 1969, Bachelor of Arts. Experience: In 1992 was overseer of the party’s nominating convention. Director of the Office of Public Liaison. 1988, Chief of staff of the national party under Ronald H. Brown. 1977, Appointed by President Carter to be director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. Family: Single.

Andrew Cuomo/HUD Age: 39. Education: Fordham University, Bachelor of Arts, 1979; Albany School of Law, 1982. Experience: 1993 confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Office of Community Planning of Development; 1991 commission chairman of New York City to lead the New York City commission on the homeless; 1984 Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan; 1986 founded H.E.L.P., nation’s largest private provider of transitional housing for homeless; 1982 special assistant to New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, his father Family: Kerry Kennedy-Cuomo; twin daughters.

Rodney E. Slater/Transportation Age: 41. Education: Eastern Michigan University, University of Arkansas Law School. Experience: Federal Highway Administrator since 1993; chairman, Arkansas State Highway Commission, 1992-93; commission member 1987-92; executive assistant to Gov. Bill Clinton, 1983-87. Family: Married to Cassandra Wilkins, one daughter. - Associated Press

2. WHO’S WHO President Clinton’s second-term Cabinet:

Nominated: Secretary of state: Madeleine Albright, the U.N. ambassador, to replace Warren Christopher. Defense secretary: William Cohen, the Republican senator from Maine, to replace William Perry. Commerce secretary: Bill Daley, the Chicago lawyer, to replace Mickey Kantor. Energy secretary: outgoing Transportation Secretary Federico Pena, to replace Hazel O’Leary. Transportation secretary: Rodney Slater, to replace Pena. Housing secretary: Andrew Cuomo, to replace Henry Cisneros. Labor secretary: Alexis Herman, to replace Robert Reich.

Staying aboard Attorney general: Janet Reno. Treasury secretary: Robert Rubin. Education secretary: Richard Riley. Health and Human Services secretary: Donna Shalala. Interior secretary: Bruce Babbitt. Agriculture secretary: Dan Glickman. Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Jesse Brown. - Associated Press

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. THE NOMINEES Federico F. Pena/Energy Age: 49. Education: University of Texas, University of Texas School of Law. Experience: Secretary of Transportation since 1993. Colorado house of representatives; mayor of Denver, 1983-91. Family: Married to Ellen Hart; two daughters.

Alexis Herman/Labor Age: 49. Education: Xavier University, 1969, Bachelor of Arts. Experience: In 1992 was overseer of the party’s nominating convention. Director of the Office of Public Liaison. 1988, Chief of staff of the national party under Ronald H. Brown. 1977, Appointed by President Carter to be director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. Family: Single.

Andrew Cuomo/HUD Age: 39. Education: Fordham University, Bachelor of Arts, 1979; Albany School of Law, 1982. Experience: 1993 confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Office of Community Planning of Development; 1991 commission chairman of New York City to lead the New York City commission on the homeless; 1984 Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan; 1986 founded H.E.L.P., nation’s largest private provider of transitional housing for homeless; 1982 special assistant to New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, his father Family: Kerry Kennedy-Cuomo; twin daughters.

Rodney E. Slater/Transportation Age: 41. Education: Eastern Michigan University, University of Arkansas Law School. Experience: Federal Highway Administrator since 1993; chairman, Arkansas State Highway Commission, 1992-93; commission member 1987-92; executive assistant to Gov. Bill Clinton, 1983-87. Family: Married to Cassandra Wilkins, one daughter. - Associated Press

2. WHO’S WHO President Clinton’s second-term Cabinet:

Nominated: Secretary of state: Madeleine Albright, the U.N. ambassador, to replace Warren Christopher. Defense secretary: William Cohen, the Republican senator from Maine, to replace William Perry. Commerce secretary: Bill Daley, the Chicago lawyer, to replace Mickey Kantor. Energy secretary: outgoing Transportation Secretary Federico Pena, to replace Hazel O’Leary. Transportation secretary: Rodney Slater, to replace Pena. Housing secretary: Andrew Cuomo, to replace Henry Cisneros. Labor secretary: Alexis Herman, to replace Robert Reich.

Staying aboard Attorney general: Janet Reno. Treasury secretary: Robert Rubin. Education secretary: Richard Riley. Health and Human Services secretary: Donna Shalala. Interior secretary: Bruce Babbitt. Agriculture secretary: Dan Glickman. Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Jesse Brown. - Associated Press


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