By unanimous consent, the Senate approved seven top Obama Administration officials in a brief post-inaugural session on 20 January 2009. Those approved were:

  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
  • Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag

Not yet confirmed are U.S. EPA Administrator nominee Lisa Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman nominee Nancy Sutley, and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, the vote on whom has been delayed by Senate Republicans until next week.

On Wednesday, 21 January, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Although her nomination was initially stalled by Senator Cornyn (R-TX), he ultimately released his hold on the nomination to allow it to be considered by the full Senate. Ultimately, two Senators [Vitter (R-LA) and DeMint (R-SC)] opposed Clinton’s confirmation. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Timothy F. Geithner as Secretary of Treasury. Geithner must still be approved by the Senate.

Although many of President Obama’s top nominees have moved quickly through the confirmation process, numerous top nominees are still working there way through the confirmation process. Additionally, on Thursday, 22 January, it Lisa Jackson - Obama’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency - has been stalled for politics. Jackson’s confirmation has been blocked by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso (R), who has expressed concerns over Obama’s plan to name Carol Browner as the White House energy czar. A representative for Barrasso explained to reporters that the Senator has concerns with the new structure of an energy and climate change advisory group within the White House. The Senator, who represents Dick Cheney’s home state, has expressed concerns about transparency over energy and climate policy deliberations in the new White House under Browner. Barrasso reportedly approached Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) with his concerns over Browner and asked her to help set up a meeting with Browner to discuss his concerns. The Barrasso spokesperson insisted that the Senator would not block a roll call vote over Jackson, but he wanted more time to vet Jackson, and meet with Browner.


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