Comments On President-Elect Obama’s Announcement Of Cabinet Nominations

President-elect Obama has honored his commitment to reach across the aisle and nominate members to his cabinet that reflect a diverse and experienced range of views.  His decision to ask Defense Secretary Gates to remain in the Pentagon at this crucial time in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his appointment of General Jones to serve as National Security Advisor, are sensible choices that will contribute steadiness and seasoned experience to the new President’s team.  I have known Secretary Gates and General Jones for many years and have worked with them on several national security issues, including strengthening our National Guard and Reserves.  Their service and leadership will help President-elect Obama and his administration confront the national security challenges ahead.


President-elect Obama’s selection of Eric Holder to serve as Attorney General of the United States will be an historic nomination.  Mr. Holder would be the first African American to serve as Attorney General, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the country.  Rebuilding morale and public confidence in the Justice Department continues to be a top priority, and Eric Holder’s extensive experience and knowledge of the Department will serve him well as he faces many challenges as Attorney General.  After the scandals that have undermined the public’s trust in the Justice Department and that have damaged the morale of its dedicated professionals, it would be especially fitting to bring in a leader who is widely admired by the staff and especially by the professionals of the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation.  He is an outstanding nominee for this challenging position, and he should have the support of senators from both sides of the aisle.  I plan to consult with our Ranking Republican and then schedule Mr. Holder’s confirmation hearing as promptly as possible.


The Justice Department will join with the Department of Homeland Security to address many issues in the coming years, and Governor Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security will bring the necessary experience and insight needed in the debate on immigration reform and border security.  I have known her since her time as State Attorney General for Arizona.  As the Governor of a state on the southern border, I expect she will appreciate the differences between the southern and northern borders.  As we move forward, the next Secretary of Homeland Security will need to carefully review our immigration policies.  Governor Napolitano’s pragmatic views on immigration will make her a strong leader on security issues, and her leadership of a border state will be an asset as the new administration and a new Congress consider responsible reforms.


In addition to addressing the many domestic challenges ahead, President-elect Obama will face pressing international crises.  In his selection of Senator Clinton to serve as Secretary of State, President-elect Obama has identified an eminently qualified nominee.  Senator Clinton will bring judgment and intelligence to the job that few people could match.  Her understanding of the global challenges we face, the importance of using diplomacy to rebuild our alliances, and the need to help the poorest countries in the world make her an outstanding nominee for this Cabinet position.  I intend to do all I can to support her nomination, and hope that the Senate will quickly confirm her after President-elect Obama takes the oath of office.


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[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.  He also is the Democratic co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus.]

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