- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UPDATED:

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

Officials said the job is Mr. Daschle’s barring an unforeseen problem as Obama’s team reviews the background of the South Dakota Democrat. They spoke on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reports, because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Obama also tapped Mr. Daschle to lead a health care group as part of seven policy working groups to assist with his transition to power.

Also, late Wednesday the transition team formally announced several members of the future Obama White House staff, including close friend and top strategist David Axelrod, who will move from Chicago to Washington and become senior adviser.

The announcement confirmed the convention wisdom Mr. Axelrod, who has worked with Mr. Obama since 2004 and also with Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who will be White House chief of staff.

Also taking West Wing posts are Lisa Brown, as staff secretary, Chris Lu as cabinet secretary and Greg Craig as White House Counsel. The word has been out about Mr. Craig, who worked in the Clinton White House, for several days.

Mr. Craig, an early Obama supporter, was assistant to the president and special counsel, and he also worked at the State Department under Secretary Madeline Albright.

Mrs. Brown was counsel to Vice President Al Gore from 1999 through the end of his term and had been deputy counsel before that. She is executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

Mr. Lu was legislative director and acting chief of staff for Mr. Obama’s senate office and a policy advisor during the campaign.

“I am pleased to announce these new additions to our team, and I’ll be relying on their broad and diverse experience in the months ahead as we work to strengthen our economy, reform Washington, and meet the great challenges of our time,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

Mr. Daschle, who was defeated by Republican John Thune in 2004, is expected to be named to the Cabinet post. He was an early Obama endorser and a top adviser who helped Mr. Obama with key staff decisions, policy plans and campaigning over the past two years.

The transition team announced the Economy, Education, Energy and Environment, Health Care, Immigration, National Security, and Technology, Innovation and Government Reform working groups would “develop the priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration.”

Leading the economic group is Daniel K. Tarullo, a law professor at Georgetown who worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Heading the education team is Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor who started her career teaching at public schools.

Carol M. Browner, potentially under consideration to be White House “Climate Czar” and avoiding reporters’ phone calls, will head the energy and environment group. She served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001.

The immigration group will be led by T. Alexander Aleinikoff, who dealt with immigration issues during the Clinton administration and another Georgetown insider who has been executive vice president of the University four years; and Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, another Stanford professor who works on immigration issues and who worked at the Treasury Department under Mr. Clinton.

The national security team will be led by James B. Steinberg, a Clinton national security alumnus who is currently dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Susan E. Rice, who has served as senior foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama. She also worked in the Clinton White House and is considered a likely choice for National Security Advisor.

Three people will head the technology, innovation and government reform group: Sonal Shah, who leads Google’s global development eforts, Julius Genachowski, who founded a venture capital firm and has clerked for Supreme Court justices and Blair Levin, a lawyer and former chief of staff at the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997.

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