(CBS NEWS) -- President Obama today named two women to fill openings as his budget
director and Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) chief,
potentially quelling criticism about the lack of diversity among his
At a White House ceremony, he
announced he was nominating Sylvia Burwell to head the Office of
Management and Budget, Gina McCarthy to run the EPA and Ernest Moniz to
be Energy Secretary and pointed out that Burwell's appointment comes as
the $85 billion in sequester cuts kick in.
"Eventually, a lot
of people are going to feel some pain, that's why we have to continue
working to reduce our deficit in a balanced way," the president said.
"I'm confident that we can get there if people of good will come
The diversity represented
in today's picks stands in contrast to just a couple of months ago when,
in January, criticism bubbled up from all corners, including from his
fellow Democrats, after naming several white men to his Cabinet
following the departure of three high-profile women.
would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my
appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet,
before they rush to judgment," Mr. Obama said in a White House news
conference on January 14. "Until you've seen what my overall team looks
like, it's premature to assume that somehow we're going backwards. We're
not going backwards, we're going forward."
congressional Democrats publicly asked the president to add more
diversity to his Cabinet after the departure of former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and EPA Administrator
Meantime, today's nominations also signal that the White House
is trying to get back to normal business after the president and
Congress failed to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that
started taking effect Friday. While the president has warned of dire
consequences for the economy as a result of the cuts, the White House
does not want the standoff with Congress to keep the president from
focusing on other second term priorities, including filling out his
Cabinet, as well as pursuing stricter gun laws and an overhaul of the
nation's immigration system.
Burwell is a Washington
veteran, having served as OMB's deputy director in the Clinton
administration and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert
Rubin. She currently runs the Wal-Mart Foundation, the retail giant's
philanthropic wing, and previously served as president of the Gates
Foundation's Global Development Program.
A White House
official credited Burwell with being a principal architect of a series
of budget plans in the 1990s that led to a budget surplus. Burwell
would replace Jack Lew, who was just confirmed as Treasury Secretary
McCarthy is currently the assistant administrator
of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation and previously served as a top
environmental official in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She would
replace Lisa Jackson, who stepped down last month.
Moniz is a
professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
previously served under President Clinton as an Energy Department
undersecretary from 1997-2001 and as Mr. Clinton's Associate Director
for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy from
1995-1997. He would replace Steven Chu, who will return to Stanford
University to teach physics.
Mr. Obama made quick work
of filling key national security openings in his administration, but
has been slower to fill other Cabinet-level openings, including the OMB
Administration officials have blamed the slow pace
of nominations on the arduous Senate confirmation process, which
requires job candidate to submit to an intense and lengthy vetting