- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2014

President Obama on Friday called on the Senate to quickly confirm his new picks to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Office of Management and Budget.

Speaking in the White House, the president formally announced — nearly a week after the news first leaked — that he’s tapped current Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to be his new budget director and nominated San Antonio Mayor and rising Democratic star in the Democratic party Julian Castro to replace Mr. Donovan at HUD.

The Cabinet shake-up comes on the heels of Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation as secretary of Health and Human Services. Pending Senate confirmation, Ms. Sebelius will be replaced by current OMB chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The president expressed confidence in both Mr. Donovan and Mr. Castro.

“I’m absolutely confident these two individuals are going to do a great job because they’ve done a great job in everything they’ve done in the past,” Mr. Obama said. “They’ve got huge hearts. They’re involved in public service for the right reasons, and for that reason, I hope the Senate confirms them both without games and without delay.”

Mr. Castro, whose twin brother Joaquin serves in the House of Representatives, first attracted national notice two years ago when he delivered a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. He’s rumored to be among the top contenders for vice president heading into the 2016 election cycle.

As others have noted, Mr. Obama said there are similarities between his story and that of Mr. Castro.

“The first time most Americans heard this man speak is when he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention almost two years ago. They saw this young guy, pretty speaker, not bad-looking, talk about how America is the only place where his story could even be possible. And I watched and I thought — that’s not bad,” the president said.

For their part, Mr. Donovan and Mr. Castro said they’re looking forward to their new roles. Mr. Donovan joked that, as a numbers guy, he’s finally moving into a position where his “love of spreadsheets will be appreciated.”

“The budget is not just about numbers. It’s about values and it’s about the future. I’ve always viewed OMB’s role as one of the most important in government,” he said.

Mr. Castro said he’s learned first-hand as mayor of San Antonio the importance housing plays in America’s economy.

“I know this much: We are in a century of cities. America’s cities are growing again and housing is at the top of the agenda,” he said. “I look forward to being part of a department that will help ensure millions of Americans all across the country have the chance to get good, safe, affordable housing and to reach their American dreams.”

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