Bush keeps four Cabinet secretaries, ending shakeup
WASHINGTON – President Bush announced Thursday he was keeping the heads of the Transportation, Interior, Housing and Labor departments, ending the major shake-up that will put new faces on three-fifths of his Cabinet in his second term.
Bush also said that Jim Nicholson, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and current U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, was his choice to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Nicholson, a decorated Vietnam veteran, would succeed Secretary Anthony Principi.
Still to be named are new heads of the Energy Department and the Health and Human Services Department.
In all, the president is replacing nine Cabinet secretaries and keeping six.
In conversations on Wednesday, Bush let Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao know of his desire that they stay on.
Bush had a similar talk with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson a few weeks ago. All accepted the president’s offer, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said.
Treasury Secretary John Snow and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also are remaining.
In recent presidential history, only former President Nixon matched the number of Cabinet seats changing hands under Bush. Presidents Clinton and Reagan had seven changes each for the second terms; Presidents Truman and Johnson had four each.
The attorney general and the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, state and veterans affairs are leaving.
Bush has yet to announce anything about three of the six positions he has designated as having Cabinet rank in addition to the 15 Cabinet jobs mandated by law: the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, now Mike Leavitt; the U.S. trade representative, now Robert Zoellick; and the drug policy director, now John Walters.
The job of director of national intelligence, though not of Cabinet rank, is unfilled.