Thu, January 22, 2009
World > Americas > Barack Obama's inauguration as 44th US president

Confirmation of Obama's cabinet designees goes through progress, bumps

2009-01-22 05:01:24 GMT2009-01-22 13:01:24 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- As Hillary Rodham Clinton was finally greenlighted by the Senate Wednesday to take office in the U.S. State Department, other cabinet designees are still undergoing thorough check at the floor.

Another key diplomatic designee, Susan Rice, who is President Barack Obama's choice for the ambassador to the United Nations, was endorsed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The approval paved the way for her confirmation by the full floor, whose vote has not been scheduled.

If confirmed, the foreign policy senior fellow at the Brookings Institute would be the first black American for the position.

However, Obama's designee for the Justice Department, Eric Holder, encountered setback as a Senate panel decided to delay his confirmation for a week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee originally planned to vote on Holder's nomination Wednesday and send it to the full floor, but the committee's Republican members said they need more time to question him on more topics, including whether U.S. intelligence agents could be prosecuted for the harsh interrogations of terror suspects.

"The request has been made by the Republicans to hold the nomination over for one week," said Senator Patrick Leahy, the panel's Democratic chairman. "I am extremely disappointed, but they have that right, and this historic -- historic -- nomination is held over."

Timothy Geithner, Obama's designee for Treasury Secretary, faced more uncertainties at the Senate since he was disclosed failing to pay his payroll taxes from 2001 to 2004 when he worked for the International Monetary Fund.

He made an apology Wednesday to the Senate Finance Committee, saying he was careless in failing to pay the tax of about 34,000 U.S. dollars. But he insisted that "I have paid what I owed."

Geithner also expressed his regret that his past transgressions were now an issue in his confirmation when the country is being through an economic distress and urged Congress to quickly respond to the crisis.

However, the committee's Republican members are concerned that a treasury secretary would be in charge of the Internal Revenue Service and should therefore come under especially tight scrutiny on the issue of paying his personal taxes.

Seven of Obama's cabinet choices have been confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20, the inauguration day, including Steven Chu as the energy secretary, Tom Vilsack as the agriculture secretary, Janet Napolitano as the homeland security secretary, Ken Salazar as the interior secretary, Eric Shinseki as the veteran affairs secretary, Arne Duncan as the education secretary and Peter Orszagto run the White House budget office.

Obama is expected to name a new choice for the Commerce Secretary since his first designee, Bill Richardson, withdrew his nomination for his involvement in a corruption case under investigation.

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