Now that we’ve been reassured that the state of our union is just fine, thank you very much, what about the state of Cabinet nominations?
Eight jobs are awaiting nominees — the incumbents have announced that they’re leaving, but the White House has yet to name a replacement.
Commerce secretary: One of the leading contenders is Penny Pritzker , a businesswoman and mega-bundler for President Obama.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator: Gina McCarthy , assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, is all but a lock to replace Lisa Jackson.
Labor secretary: Since Hilda Solis announced she would return to her native California, Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, has emerged as a top candidate for the job. Ed Montgomery, dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, is also thought to be in the mix.
Energy secretary: The slate of names circulating to succeed Steven Chu includes former Colorado governor Bill Ritter and former senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota.
U.S. trade representative: Among those said to be under consideration for the job vacated by Ron Kirk are Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez and Fred Hochberg, president of the Export-Import Bank.
Office of Management and Budget director: Jeff Zients , acting head of the OMB, is another potential replacement for Kirk. Among those who might take the helm for good are Sylvia Mathews Burwell, head of the Walmart Foundation.
Transportation secretary: Debbie Hersman, National Transportation Safety Board chairman, is said to be on the shortlist to replace Ray LaHood .
Small Business Administration chief: Karen Mills announced Monday that she is leaving the administration, and a list of contenders for the job has yet to emerge.
Defense secretary: Confirmation hasn’t been an easy ride for former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). His nomination cleared committee Tuesday — but on a party-line vote of 14 to 11, with all his former GOP pals opposed.
Treasury secretary: White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew’s ritual Hill grill begins this week.
CIA director: John Brennan is finishing up hearings, and indications are that a committee vote could happen as soon as this week.
Interior secretary: Obama named Sally Jewell, CEO of outdoor-gear company REI, to the post last week.
The administration has been slow off the mark in moving second-term nominees. Only one Cabinet secretary has been confirmed so far (John Kerry at State), which lags behind the clip set by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Some of the delay can be chalked up to pressing policy matters (see Cliff, Fiscal). And the Senate hasn’t exactly been moving at a lightning pace on Hagel or Brennan.
The diversity tally
The White House has at least eight slots to fill, so Obama has plenty of chances to live up to his promises. (He has urged people to “wait until they’ve seen all my appointments . . . before they rush to judgment.” )