- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2014

President Obama is preparing to shuffle his Cabinet, with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget while San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will take over at HUD, according to various media reports.

White House officials declined to comment Sunday on the pending moves, which were first reported by the San Antonio Express-News. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Castro has not yet been offered the HUD job, but is interested in the post.

The changes would complete the reshuffling that began when embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned last month.

Mr. Donovan would replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president’s budget chief who was nominated to lead HHS in the wake of the error-filled debut of the Obamacare web site.

Mr. Castro, 39, a Mexican-American, is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party as the head of the nation’s seventh-largest city. His name comes up frequently in speculation about a possible choice as the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2016, and he came to national prominence as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

The three-term mayor also would become a high-profile symbol of the administration’s efforts to bolster its electoral gains with the nation’s burgeoning Hispanic population, amid the president’s push to complete a comprehensive immigration reform this year. Legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants has stalled in the Republican-led House.

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While the president has blamed Republicans aligned with the tea party for blocking his immigration overhaul, Mr. Obama also is under increasing pressure from Hispanics for failing to come through on his own promises on the issue. Immigration activists are urging the administration to ease up on deportations of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Donovan most recently has guided the federal government’s response to Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts in the Northeast. He has served in the Cabinet since 2009.

While the OMB post doesn’t receive much public attention, the job is vital to forging the administration’s annual spending proposals and to carrying out a wide variety of government operations.

At a Democratic fundraiser in New York City last week, Mr. Donovan accompanied the president, who praised him for overseeing the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts in New Jersey and New York. Mr. Obama said Mr. Donovan has done “a terrific job.”

The nomination of Mr. Castro would raise his national profile just as the Democratic jockeying for 2016 is building. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading choice of Democrats in most polls, was asked last week about the possibility of choosing Mr. Castro or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as her running mate if she runs and wins the 2016 Democratic nomination.

“They’re both extraordinary leaders and great political advocates for a lot of what needs to be done in our country, and I admire both of them greatly,” Mrs. Clinton told ABC. Mr. Castro has said he’ll support Mrs. Clinton if she runs.

Mr. Castro met in February with former President Bill Clinton and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, who also served as mayor of San Antonio. After the meeting, Mr. Cisneros said he advised Mr. Castro to accept a post in the Obama administration.

“I thought that if he was going to be vice-presidential material in 2016, then he needed to be more than mayor at that time,” Mr. Cisneros said at the time.

Among the Hispanics in the Republican Party who are considering campaigns for the White House in 2016 are Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

As mayor, Mr. Cisneros is known for his advocacy of expanding pre-kindergarten education. His brother, Joaquin, represents Texas’ 20th congressional district in the House.

Mr. Castro told the Express-News in an interview just last month that he intended to remain as mayor until the end of his term in January 2016.

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