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Eye Opener: Dec. 5, 2008

By Ed O'Keefe

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In the news...

Eye Opener

Cabinet Making: The Eye's colleague, friend, traveling companion and mentor The Fix forecasts the cabinet picks most likely to "squirm the most under questioning from the Senate." Most likely to face discomfort: Attorney General nominee Eric Holder.

The Future of HHS: With 65,000 employees and a budget of $707.7 billion, the Department of Health and Human Services account for nearly one-quarter of all federal spending, second only to the Defense Department, notes The Post's Ceci Connolly. "With the expectation that Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, will focus heavily on crafting and pushing legislation, there will be an even greater need for a strong No. 2. HHS is a collection of 11 agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." One of Daschle's likely deputies is "Jeanne Lambrew, a veteran of the Clinton administration and a co-author of Daschle's book 'Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.'"

More EPA Regulations: "The Environmental Protection Agency mandated yesterday that manufacturers of heavy diesel trucks and buses install dashboard lights by 2010, like those devised for cars more than a decade ago, to signal whether emissions control equipment is malfunctioning," reports The Post's R. Jeffrey Smith. "The equipment is meant to help enforce compliance with pollution limits that the government tightened last year." More: "The Bush administration's mandate came three months after the EPA approved California's request for legal authority to demand that the state's 400,000 diesel trucks install the new warning lights and related computer equipment."

Environmental Picks: The three-most environmentally-sensitive Cabinet picks, the secretaries of energy and interior and EPA administrator, will likely be named next week, reports The Post's In the Loop. " Potential energy picks: Duke Energy executive Jim Rogers, former Energy Department official Dan Reicher, former top Clinton White House environmental aide Kathleen McGinty, FedEx chairman and Republican backer Fred Smith, New Jersey utility chief executive Ralph Izzo, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), retired California energy utility executive John Bryson and Kansas Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. As for EPA, California state environmental official Mary Nichols and New Jersey environmental agency official Lisa Jackson have long been considered the leading picks. At Interior, former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, Richard Moe, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

FEMA's Future: We missed this earlier in the week, but Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) write to The New York Times that "[FEMA] still needs improvement, but our reforms are working: FEMA’s response to the 2008 hurricane season was effective. Lives are saved when skills, resources and missions are united — not dispersed. FEMA is becoming a far stronger agency. The last thing it needs is another upheaval."

Hiring Military Spouses: The Federal Times reports that "Some military spouses are a step closer to being able take advantage of a new quicker, noncompetitive hiring authority to get jobs in the federal government. ... the Office of Personnel Management has drafted new rules to implement an executive order allowing managers in all federal agencies to hire qualified military spouses without putting them through the normal competitive hiring process." More: "President Bush signed the executive order Sept. 25, and it applies to military spouses whose service members are incapacitated or killed, as well as those relocating on permanent change-of-station orders."

Events: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts "U.S. Diplomacy in the Americas: A Conversation with U.S. Ambassadors." 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at the Chamber. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon and the U.S. Ambassadors to the nations of the Western Hemisphere will reflect on U.S. policy in the region.

This Day in History: On this date in 1996, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan questioned whether the stock market was overvalued, saying in a speech in Washington, "How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly inflated asset values?" More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 5, 2008; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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