Obama completes cabinet lineup

By Xinhua,

Washington : U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Friday named more members for his administration, completing his cabinet lineup ahead of the Christmas holiday.

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Obama nominated Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary, California Rep. Hilda Solis as labor secretary, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative, and venture capitalist Karen Mills as head of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

He made the announcement at a live-broadcast press conference in Chicago which started at 1415 eastern time (1915 GMT).

Obama said he is “confident the department of labor will stand up for working families” under Solis’ watch.

“She is blazing new trails every step of the way,” he said.

“I am humbled and honored,” Solis said. “As secretary of labor I will work to strengthen our unions.”

Labor unions and political observers praised Obama’s selection for the Labor Department head.

Obama has enjoyed the support of organized labor since the campaign season, when the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor organization, endorsed him for president, calling him “a champion for working families.”

If confirmed, Solis would be the third Hispanic to serve in Obama’s Cabinet, along with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is Obama’s choice for secretary of commerce, and Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, whom Obama tapped to be secretary of the interior.

Solis, 51, served eight years in the California legislature and also worked in former President Jimmy Carter’s administration in her 20s.

She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and has been in that post since then.

Obama also fulfilled a promise by naming LaHood, a Republican, as his choice to head the Transportation Department.

He said LaHood has “fought to improve mass transit and our highways.”

LaHood, 63, a seven-term congressman from Peoria, Illinois, is respected on Capitol Hill, and his appointment as transportation secretary was hailed by both sides of the aisle.

He represents the Illinois district that includes the counties represented by Abraham Lincoln when he was a Representative from 1847 to 1849.

There was mixed reaction on the news that Dallas’ former mayor Ron Kirk would be selected as U.S. trade representative.

Kirk, 54, served Dallas from 1995 to 2001, and will become the first African-American to hold the post of U.S. trade representative if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate.

The nomination of Mills as the next SBA head was met with praise.

Mills, 54, is a founding partner of private equity investment firm Solera Capital in New York.

House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velozquez was quick to praise the nomination.

“President-elect Obama’s decision to name an SBA administrator so early in the transition is a good sign for small businesses,” she said.

Friday’s press conference took place just hours before Obama and his family headed to Hawaii for the Christmas vacation.

The President-elect has now completed the selection of his cabinet members, at a pace much faster than most previous presidents-elect.

Obama will be inaugurated in Washington on Jan. 20, 2009.