Appointee Watch: Senators Grill Defense Pick, Confirm FEMA Director

A round-up of recent nominations to key administration posts.

While in recent weeks, several nominees to key positions in the Trump administration had relatively quiet confirmation processes, the same could not be said for the White House’s pick for deputy Defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan.

The Washington Post reported that on Tuesday, Shanahan faced stark criticism from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who questioned his relative lack of experience in the Defense Department and what they perceived as inadequate answers to policy questions.

Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said prepared answers from Shanahan, who is a vice president at Boeing, on whether the United States should supply weapons to Ukraine in that country’s fight against Russian-backed separatists were “unsatisfactory” and threatened to hold up his confirmation.

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Brock Long, who led the Alabama Emergency Management Agency from 2008 until 2011, to serve as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, out of more than 500 key administration positions requiring Senate confirmation, 43 appointees have been confirmed and are on the job. One hundred eleven people have been announced or formally nominated, while 404 positions remain vacant.

In recent days, Trump has nominated the following people to key posts:

Commerce: Michael Platt, assistant secretary for legislative and intergovernmental affairs. Platt is chief of staff to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. He also served as Blackburn’s legislative director, and he has been a lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America and trade association TechNet.

Defense: John Gibson, deputy chief management officer. Gibson was president and CEO of XCOR Aerospace Inc. He is a veteran of the defense contracting industry, and he has held positions as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and deputy undersecretary of Defense for management reform.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: James Clinger, chairman. Clinger has been the chief counsel for the House Financial Services Committee since 2007. He worked as deputy assistant attorney general from 2005 until 2007.

Health and Human Services: Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use. McCance-Katz is chief medical officer for the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. She previously was the first chief medical officer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Lance Robertson, assistant secretary for aging. Robertson has been the state of Oklahoma’s director of aging services for the past decade.

Housing and Urban Development: Anna Farias, assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. She is the chairwoman of the board of regents at Texas Woman’s University. She previously served in a number of positions at HUD from 2001 until 2008, including senior counsel to then-secretary Mel Martinez, deputy assistant secretary for special initiatives and deputy assistant secretary for grant programs.

Labor: Patrick Pizzella, deputy secretary. Pizzella is acting chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, to which he was appointed by Trump in January. Pizzella has been a member of FLRA since 2013, and he served as assistant secretary of labor for administration and management from 2001 until 2009. He also has held jobs at the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration.

National Security Agency: Robert Storch, inspector general. Storch is deputy inspector general at the Justice Department, and he is the Justice Office of the Inspector General whistleblower ombudsman. Before joining the OIG, he had an extensive career in the Justice Department.

State: Kelly Craft, ambassador to Canada. Craft runs a business consulting firm in Kentucky and was a U.S. delegate to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

Sharon Day, ambassador to Costa Rica. Day has been co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee since 2011 and has been active in Republican politics for more than 20 years.

George Glass, ambassador to Portugal. Glass runs a company that buys and operates apartment complexes and other rental properties.

Treasury: Isabel Patelunas, assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis. Patelunas is a member of the Senior Intelligence Service at the Central Intelligence Agency, where she has served since 1989. She currently serves as director of the president’s daily briefing, and she previously was deputy director of the CIA’s Office of Middle East and North Africa Analysis, and she has held leadership positions in the National Counterproliferation Center and the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Office.

Veterans Affairs: Donald Loren, assistant secretary for operations, security and preparedness. Loren is CEO and president of Old Dominion Strategies, a veteran-owned consulting firm. He previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland security integration, and he served for 31 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a rear admiral.

Peter Shelby, assistant secretary for human resources and administration. Shelby is principal and founder at Transcendent Performance, a consulting firm specializing in HR and talent development. He served for 24 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of major.

White House: Gregory Doud, chief agricultural negotiator, U.S. trade representative. Doud is president of the Commodity Markets Council. He previously was a senior staffer for the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he worked on the 2012 Senate Farm Bill, among other legislation.

Marvin Kaplan, member, National Labor Relations Board. Kaplan is chief counsel for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. He also has served as counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

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