Published January 21, 2009
As Eric Holder and Timothy Geithner await Senate confirmation as President Obama's attorney general and secretary of the treasury, veterans of the Bush administration are continuing to run the day-to-day operations of those and other Cabinet-level departments.
Seven departments -- Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation -- are still without newly confirmed leaders. And so as of noon on Tuesday, as Obama was taking the oath of office, a holdover from the Bush administration took those departments' reins, agreeing to keep things running smoothly until the president's choices are confirmed.
While Holder waits for his confirmation, Bush appointee Mark Filip is acting attorney general. A former U.S. District Court judge in Illinois, the native Chicagoan holds a law degree from Harvard and a was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Holder was supposed to have faced a confirmation vote on Wednesday, but scheduling conflicts necessitated a delay in the Senate.
New York Federal Reserve Board Chairman Timothy F. Geithner's placeholder at the Treasury Department is Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Geithner's confirmation has been mired in controversy since revelations surfaced about unpaid taxes and an illegal housekeeper. Geithner was having his confirmation hearing with the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday; he is expected to be confirmed.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's withdrawal as nominee for commerce secretary means that the department's chief financial officer, Otto J. Wolff, will remain a while longer than the other Bush holdovers. Wolff joined Commerce in 2001 and has overseen its $5.6 billion budget. Obama has not yet named a nominee to replace Richardson, who is being investigated on a pay-to-play deal with a California contractor.
Howard Radzely, the deputy secretary of labor, assumed daily duties Tuesday as California Rep. Hilda L. Solis awaits her confirmation. Bush appointed Radzely to his deputy post in 2007 and has been with the department since 2001. Solis' confirmation has been held up over her support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would remove the secret ballot requirement for employees seeking to form unions.
As former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle awaits his appointment as the secretary of health and human services, Charles E. Johnson is acting secretary. Johnson, who was appointed by Bush in 2005 as the assistant secretary for budget, technology and finance, was a public accountant for 31 years before joining the department.
New York City housing department chief Shaun Donovan's wait for confirmation as Housing and Urban Development secretary puts Federal Housing Commissioner Brian D. Montgomery in charge at HUD. Montgomery joined the agency in 2005 after serving in the White House under the Bush administration.
Finally, Transportation Secretary-designate Ray H. LaHood will take the reins from an undisclosed official when he is confirmed by the Senate. Former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has vacated her post, and an acting official is not listed on the department's Web site. A call to the Transportation Department was not immediately returned.
And for those who wondered, Hillary Clinton hadn't been confirmed as secretary of state until Wednesday afternoon. While her appointment was in limbo, Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns held down the fort. The department's normally third-ranking official is a career diplomat who joined the foreign service in 1982 and was ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008.