Who's Who on Obama's Dream Team

Tom Vilsack
Obama announced former Democratic Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his choice for secretary of the Department of Agriculture. Confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20, Vilsack was the fourth opponent that Obama selected for his administration. In 2006, the two-time Iowa governor decided to run for the Democratic presidential nomination but dropped out within four months because he had trouble raising money. Vilsack, who most recently worked for a law firm in Des Moines, supported Hillary Clinton and served as her campaign's national co-chairman. Animal rights organization The Humane Society of the United States endorsed Vilsack, dubbing him as an "excellent choice" for the post. Some of the key issues Vilsack will have to contend with as agriculture secretary are alternative energy, the recession-affected agricultural industry and the controversial ethanol subsidies, which Obama supports.

Ray LaHood
Obama tapped Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood as secretary of transportation. LaHood, confirmed on Jan. 22, was the second non-Democrat selected to join Obama's Cabinet. News of his appointment was welcomed by Republicans, who had been waiting for Obama to fulfill his promise of selecting a bipartisan Cabinet. LaHood will play an important role in the stimulus plan and in carrying out the transportation reforms that Obama seeks. In a December radio address, Obama promised significant upgrades to the country's infrastructure -- "the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since President Eisenhower established the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s," he said. LaHood will also have to work with U.S. governors, who are pushing for more federal investment to improve roads and highways. LaHood's son Sam worked as a press advance staffer for John McCain's campaign.

Shaun Donovan

Obama nominated Shaun Donovan to his Cabinet as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In his radio address on Dec. 13, Obama praised the New York City housing commissioner for his efforts in creating the "largest housing plan in the nation" and "helping hundreds of thousands of our citizens buy or rent their homes." The native New Yorker led a $7.5 billion proposed plan that entails adding 165,000 reasonably-priced homes to New York's expensive housing stock by 2013. Like several of Obama's Cabinet appointments, Donovan is also an alumni of the Clinton administration, serving as a deputy assistant secretary at HUD.

Eric Holder

Washington lawyer Eric Holder is Obama's selection for attorney general. Holder, 57, was the first black to hold several top Justice Department positions and is likewise the first black attorney general.

During the Clinton administration, Holder served as deputy attorney general, working under then-Attorney General Janet Reno. While at the Justice Department, Holder was viewed as a centrist on most law enforcement issues, though he has sharply criticized the secrecy and the expansive views of executive power advanced by the Bush Justice Department. Holder faced a tough audience during his confirmation hearings, addressing old controversies of Clinton-era pardons. The Senate voted 75-21 to confirm him on Feb 2.

White House Staff Picks

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