Senate Confirms a Slew of Nominees
By Al Kamen
The Senate early this morning confirmed 14 nominees for top posts in the Obama administration and Democrats are confident that, as soon as the Senate returns from its spring recess, they will be able to confirm career diplomat Christopher Hill to be ambassador to Iraq.
Acting shortly after midnight, the Senate confirmed: Jane Lute to be deputy secretary of Homeland Security, W. Scott Gould to be deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, John Berry to be director of the Office of Personnel Management and Karen Gordon Mills to be administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Four top State Department officials were confirmed: Richard Verma to be assistant secretary of State for Legislative Affairs; Esther Brimmer to be an assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs; Rose Gottemoeller to be an assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance; and, Melanne Verveer to be Ambassador at Large for Women's Global Issues. Also, Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry was confirmed to be ambassador to Afghanistan.
The Senate also confirmed two top Pentagon officials: James N. Miller, Jr. to be deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Alexander Vershbow to be assistant secretary for international security affairs.
For the Department of Agriculture, Kathleen A. Merrigan was confirmed to be deputy secretary, James W. Miller was confirmed as undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Joe Leonard Jr. was confirmed as assistant secretary.
Democratic sources said they were unable to obtain GOP consent to approve Hill's nomination, but were confident they would have the votes needed to confirm him, even if that required 60 votes to break a filibuster, when Senate returns on April 20.
Three Justice Department nominees, Democrats said, would likely be confirmed by the Senate that same day. They are: Tony West, to head the civil division, Lanny Breuer to be chief of the criminal division and Christine Varney to head the antitrust division.
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