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Appointee Watch: HHS Secretary, Fed Chairman Confirmed

Trump announces nominees to Defense, HUD and OMB.

On Monday, four months to the day that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign over a scandal involving his use of publicly funded private plane travel, President Trump attended the swearing in of Alex Azar, who was confirmed last week to lead the agency.

Last week also saw the Senate vote to confirm Jerome Powell to chair the Federal Reserve Board, and Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie to confirm Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the ambassador at-large for international religious freedom.

But in recent days, rumors swirled around whether Trump would try to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over his handling of the special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential campaign. Such a move would likely trigger a contentious confirmation fight for whomever the White House nominates to replace the former federal prosecutor.

According to the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post, which have been tracking more than 600 key agency positions that require Senate confirmation, 245 posts have been permanently filled. An additional 150 people have been announced or formally nominated, while 240 jobs remain vacant.

Trump has recently nominated the following people to government leadership positions:

Agency for International Development: Johnathan Miller, assistant administrator. Miller most recently was president of Airborne Lifeline Foundation, a nonprofit that provides air transport of medical personnel to remote facilities in southern African nations. He previously was director fo the Peace Corps in Botswana, as well as a senior director at the National Security Council and deputy assistant to President Reagan.

Agriculture: Kenneth Barbic, assistant secretary for congressional affairs. Barbic is a senior director for the Western Growers Association, a group of produce farmers. He also has served as the deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for congressional affairs and he was a legislative assistant with the House Ways and Means Committee.

Defense: John Gibson, chief management officer. Gibson is the deputy chief management officer at the department. He previously was president and CEO of XCOR Aerospace, a company that develops rocket engines and other aerospace technologies. He was assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management, as well as deputy undersecretary of Defense for management reform.

Thomas Ayres, general counsel, Department of the Air Force. Ayres most recently was the deputy judge advocate general for the Army. He is a retired major general, who also served as commander of the Army Legal Services Agency, chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and commander and commandant of the judge advocate general’s legal center and school.

Paul Ney, general counsel. Ney most recently was Tennessee’s chief deputy attorney general. He previously served as acting general counsel and principal deputy general counsel for the U.S. Navy, as well as deputy general counsel for legal counsel at Defense. He also has practiced law in the private sector.

James Stewart, assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. Stewart served as the chairman of the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission’s economic development committee. He is a retired Air Force Reserve major general, who most recently was the military executive of the secretary of defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service: Michael Stoker, director. Stoker is an attorney who has worked on labor and agricultural issues for more than three decades. From 2000 until 2002, he was California’s deputy secretary of state, and he was chairman of the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1995 until 2000.

Housing and Urban Development: Seth Appleton, assistant secretary for policy development and research. Appleton is an acting assistant secretary and general deputy assistant secretary at HUD, where he manages the agency’s congressional and intergovernmental relations. He was chief of staff to Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer, R-Mo., from 2009 until 2017.

Interior: James Reilly, director, U.S. Geological Survey. Reilly is a technical adviser supporting the Air Force’s National Security Space Institute. He is a former astronaut, who flew three spaceflight missions and participated in five spacewalks. He also held a number of positions in both the private sector and academia based on his space and geology expertise.

National Labor Relations Board: John Ring, member. Ring is a partner at the law firm of Morgan Lewis and Bockius, where he co-leads the labor/management relations practice. The firm’s bio of Ring states that he has negotiated and administered labor contracts, and that he has represented “management interests” in collective bargaining, litigation and strategies for avoiding lawsuits.

Office of Management and Budget: Suzette Kent, administrator, Office of Electronic Government. Kent is a principal at EY, and has been a partner at Accenture and a consulting president at Carreker Corporation.

State: Francis Fannon, assistant secretary for energy resources. Fannon is a businessman and attorney in the energy and natural resources industries and a former Senate staffer. Before entering the private sector, Fannon was counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Edward Prado, ambassador to Argentina. Prado has served as a federal judge for more than 30 years, most recently as an appellate judge on the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Prior to joining the bench, he was a federal prosecutor in Texas, as well as a state district judge and an assistant federal public defender.

Trevor Traina, ambassador to Austria. Traina is a tech entrepreneur who founded IfOnly, a company that allows people to purchase “experiences” and donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.