Thursday, January 15, 2009


LaHood Hearing Postponed

The confirmation hearing for former congressman Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) to be Barack Obama's secretary of transportation was postponed until at least next week, the Senate Commerce Committee announced just before the hearing was to begin yesterday.

Obama's transition team has become increasingly anxious about the backgrounds of nominees now that two nominees have hit significant bumps in the rush of confirmation hearings, and the committee is waiting to get some background paperwork on LaHood that it says is usually provided on nominees.

Obama's pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew from consideration after the FBI flagged an ongoing grand jury investigation that is looking at the governor's office role in the hiring of a bond adviser and Richardson donor.

And Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy F. Geithner has had his hearing rescheduled after questions came up about errors he made earlier this decade in reporting and paying his income taxes.

LaHood, a seven-term House member who retired last month, has close ties to a Republican power broker William F. Cellini Sr., who was indicted in the pay-to-play scandal that also led to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's recent arrest, The Post reported yesterday, and LaHood also sponsored $60 million in congressional earmarks last year.

-- Carol D. Leonnig


Warren Praises Inclusivity

The Rev. Rick Warren, the conservative evangelical minister who will deliver the invocation at the inauguration Tuesday, has extended an olive branch to V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal bishop who had reacted angrily to the selection of Warren for the Inauguration Day spot.

Robinson had called the choice of Warren, who opposes same-sex marriage, a "slap in the face."

Then, this week, Robinson was selected to give the invocation at the inaugural opening ceremony at Sunday afternoon's concert on the Mall.

Warren issued a statement yesterday praising Obama for adding Robinson to the lineup, saying the president-elect "has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground." He added: "I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."

-- Jacqueline L. Salmon

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