Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tom Vilsack To Continue As Agriculture Secretary For President Obama's Second Term

President says it's "premature" to assume his Cabinet will be less diverse than in first term...
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday that President Obama has asked him to remain in his post for the second Administration, and said that he will do so.  Speaking from the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the former two-term Governor of Iowa said his biggest recent disappoint was Congress' failure to pass a new Farm Bill, but that he's looking forward to "a promising future."

"It's been an amazing four years," Vilsack told reporters.  "I'm just thankful I'll have more time, because there's more to do." 

Vilsack, 62, the thirtieth Agriculture Secretary, will not need the Senate approval required for new nominees to the President's Cabinet.

“President Obama and I share a deep appreciation for rural America and its unlimited potential in the years ahead to feed a growing world population, revolutionize America’s energy, further protect our natural resources and create more jobs here at home," Vilsack said in a formal statement.

"We will continue to urge Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that will help us continue USDA’s wide range of efforts to support this work. As we look ahead to a promising future in our small towns and rural communities, I am pleased to continue working alongside President Obama to grow more opportunity in rural America."

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have also announced they will remain for the President's second term.

President Obama has nominated Sen. John Kerry to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and and Jacob Lew--the current White House Chief of Staff--to serve as the next Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner Sen. Chuck Hagel has been nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense, replacing Leon Panetta, and John Brennan has been nominated as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

During the last news conference of his first term on Monday, President Obama was asked by reporters about a perceived lack of women and minorities serving on his second-term Cabinet.  He noted that he's announced just four appointments so far, and said criticism is "premature," and urged people to not "rush to judgement."

"I’m very proud that in the first four years we had as diverse, if not more diverse, a White House and a Cabinet than any in history," President Obama said. "So I think people should expect that that record will be built upon during the next four years."

"It’s premature to assume that somehow we’re going backwards.  We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward."

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan have still not made their plans known.

*In the photo at top, President Obama and Sec. Vilsack are at the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.