A Senate committee postponed a vote for Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as President Barack Obama's labor secretary yesterday after her husband settled tax liens this week. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said her nomination wasn't in trouble, even though the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions delayed the vote after her husband paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens. "We're not going to penalize her for her husband's mistakes," Gibbs said at the White House.
The Obama administration will not conduct the same kind of "extraordinary rendition" that was allowed under the Bush administration, CIA director-nominee Leon Panetta said. He told a Senate committee yesterday that Obama forbids what Panetta called "that kind of extraordinary rendition - when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values." Panetta is testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his plans for the CIA should he be confirmed as its next director.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted in favor of William Lynn, a Raytheon lobbyist, to become the next deputy defense secretary. His nomination runs counter to Obama's promise to close the "revolving door" between government and big business. The panel also endorsed Robert Hale to become Pentagon comptroller; Michele Flournoy to lead the department's policy office; and Jeh Charles Johnson to be Pentagon general counsel. The nominations were approved by voice vote.
Eager to show action on the energy front, Obama ordered his government yesterday to establish higher efficiency standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and microwave ovens. "This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Japan, South Korea, China and Indonesia later this month on her first overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat, a signal of Obama's eagerness to strengthen ties in a region crucial to U.S. interests. Clinton will visit the four countries starting Feb. 15, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said yesterday.
Obama will hold a prime-time news conference on Monday, White House officials said. Gibbs said yesterday that Obama will answer reporters' questions at the
8 p.m. event. It would be the first prime-time news conference for Obama, who took office two weeks ago.