Obama’s Cabinet Headed for Shake-Up
(WASHINGTON) — President Obama’s victory Tuesday means he will pivot almost immediately to shoring up the team of top aides and cabinet secretaries who will help him tackle the looming fiscal cliff negotiations with Republicans and the full legislative agenda to follow.
While the president’s staffers have undergone some serious changes during his first term, his cabinet secretaries have remained stable. Several high-profile members are expected to step down from their roles in early 2013.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has openly and unambiguously pledged to step down from her post in a second Obama term, though she told State Department employees in January that she “will certainly stay on until the president nominates someone and that transition can occur.”
And Timothy Geithner, the longest-serving member of Obama’s economic team, said earlier this year that he would not return to the administration in a second term. “I’m confident he’ll be president,” he told Bloomberg News, speaking of Obama. “But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”
Leon Panetta, 74, who assumed his role as Defense chief in June 2011, will likely continue in his position for a few months to another year, according sources close to him.
When asked if he’ll stay for a second Obama term, Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year: “What my future holds, frankly, I’m just not sure.” Holder, the first African-American U.S. attorney general, is said to want to remain in the job but recognizes that controversies have marked his tenure.
Janet Napolitano, the first woman Homeland Security chief, is said to enjoy her role but contemplate a return to her native Arizona. In an August interview with the Arizona Republic, she said a 2013 departure was “certainly in my mind” but added, “I don’t know if or when. … But I left a lot of my stuff in Arizona, and I’m still a registered voter there.”
Jack Lew — Obama’s fourth chief of staff during his first term — has held the position since January 2012 and will play a key role in charting a course for a second administration in early 2013. He will likely remain in the role at least into early 2013 but is also said to be interested in a new role in Washington or back in his hometown of New York.
White House press secretary Jay Carney is expected to leave his post and return to the private sector early in Obama’s second term. He has served 20 months in his current role as Obama’s second official spokesman, first assuming the position from Robert Gibbs in February 2011.
Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to remain in her post well into Obama’s second term to oversee further implementation of the administration’s health care law.
Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan has said it’s ultimately up to the president but that he would like to remain the head of the agency responsible for promoting home ownership, affordable rental residences and community development.
Department of Education secretary Arne Duncan, who is close personally with Obama and an occasional basketball playmate, is likely to stay through the second term to marshal an education reform plan he helped put in place, including the Race to the Top program and administering waivers for the No Child Left Behind law.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio