WASHINGTON — The Senate warmly received several of President-elect Obama's choices for Cabinet positions Wednesday, continuing an aggressive push to confirm them by Inauguration Day.
At hearings reviewing Obama's picks for veterans affairs secretary, agriculture secretary and EPA administrator, Senate Democrats and Republicans praised the selections and pledged to confirm them quickly.
The three Cabinet picks who faced the Senate on Wednesday all pledged to improve upon the current administration.
Veterans Affairs: Retired Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the nominee, said six-month waits to have a disability claim processed would not be acceptable under his watch and promised to modernize the nation's second largest agency. "The frustrating lack of timeliness, and the challenges of coordinating DOD and VA's systems, are some of the areas that must be addressed quickly," he said.
Agriculture: Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, pledged enthusiastic support for federal purchases of fruits and vegetables and reassured specialty crop growers in states such as California, Florida and Texas that their interests will be protected. He said he will work to boost the economies of farm communities, promote nutritious foods and help poor families put meals on the table.
EPA: Lisa Jackson, nominated to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, pledged that decisions will be based on science and the law and not politics. "Science must be the backbone of what EPA does," said Jackson. "EPA's addressing of scientific decisions should reflect the expert judgment of the agency's career scientists and independent advisers."