Appointee Watch: Another Cabinet-Level Job Opens Up

President Trump meets with his Cabinet on Sept. 26. HHS secretary Tom Price has since resigned in the wake of a scandal over his use of private jets at taxpayers' expense. President Trump meets with his Cabinet on Sept. 26. HHS secretary Tom Price has since resigned in the wake of a scandal over his use of private jets at taxpayers' expense. Joyce N. Boghosian/The White House via AP

Although President Trump has made a number of appointments to key positions in the federal government in recent weeks, he encountered another setback last week.

On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in the wake of a scandal over his use of private jets, which cost taxpayers an estimated $400,000. The practice of Trump administration officials taking charter jets has come under scrutiny in recent days, and other officials are now under investigation.

Price’s departure means another Cabinet-level vacancy that must be filled, and it could stay that way for some time. A new HHS nominee could face a tough confirmation fight, and Trump still has not announced his pick to lead the Homeland Security Department. Elaine Duke has led that agency on an acting basis since John Kelly left the job in July to become White House chief of staff.

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On Capitol Hill, the Senate recently confirmed a number of ambassadorial nominees, and voted Monday to confirm Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to a new term. But according to the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post, which have been tracking more than 500 key posts requiring Senate confirmation, 129 Trump nominees are now serving in their jobs, while 178 people have either been announced or formally nominated and 294 positions remain vacant.

Trump has announced the following nominations in recent days:

Commerce: Nazakhtar Nikakhtar, assistant secretary for industry and analysis. Nikakhtar is a partner at Cassidy Levy Kent, an international trade law firm. She previously served in the Commerce Department, advising officials on U.S. trade law enforcement and bilateral trade negotiations.

Neil Jacobs, assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction. Jacobs is chief atmospheric scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corp., where he directs research and development of weather observation programs and forecast models.

Defense: Robert McMahon, assistant secretary, logistics and materiel readiness. McMahon is president of Fickling Management Services. He previously worked for Boeing Co., and he is a retired Air Force major general.

John Roth, assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management. Roth most recently served as comptroller for program and budget in the Defense Department. He has held a number of posts within the agency’s office of the undersecretary for comptroller.

Shon Manasco, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs. Manasco most recently was executive vice president and chief administrative officer for USAA. He was an officer in the U.S. Army.

Education: James Blew, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development. Blew is the director of Student Success of California, a school choice and charter school advocacy group.

Timothy Kelly, assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education. Kelly is a Republican representative in the Michigan state legislature. He is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid, and he chairs the House Education Reform policy committee.

Housing and Urban Development: Robert Kurtz, assistant secretary for public and Indian housing. Kurtz is HUD’s deputy chief of staff for policy and programs. He has experience in housing policy at both the local and federal levels dating back to the George W. Bush administration.

Justice: Joseph Hunt, assistant attorney general, civil division. Hunt is chief of staff and senior counselor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He previously served for 15 years as director of the federal programs branch in the Justice Department’s civil division.

Labor: Kate O’Scannlain, solicitor. O’Scannlain is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland and Ellis, a law firm. She has experience representing companies in the fields of employment and labor law.

Small Business Administration: David Tryon, chief counsel for advocacy. Tryon is a partner at the lawfirm of Porter Wright Morris and Arthur.

State: Irvin Goldstein, undersecretary for public diplomacy. Goldstein is a communications professional and senior vice president of BP Global Solutions, a consulting firm. He previously served as director of public affairs at the Interior Department and worked for five members of the House in public relations roles.

Sean Lawler, assistant secretary and chief of protocol. Lawler is director for visits, planning and diplomatic affairs at the National Security Council. He previously was chief of the office of visits and protocol at the U.S. Cyber Command. He is a 20-year Navy veteran.

James Evans, ambassador to Luxembourg. Evans is a partner at a private-sector law firm, and he was counsel to the Speaker of the House from 1995 until 2007.

Transportation: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, assistant secretary for research and technology. Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a professor at George Washington University. She previously served as chief economist at the Labor Department and was chief of staff to the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the George W. Bush administration.

Raymond Martinez, administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Martinez is the chairman and chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and a member of the New Jersey State Planning Commission. He previously served in similar roles in New York and has served on the board of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

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