The Washington Post

Obama’s Cabinet nearly complete, if not completely diverse

In this March 4, 2013, file photom President Barack Obama speaks to media at the start of a Cabinet meeting, including, from left, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

And then there was one.

Now that President Obama has announced Penny Pritzker as his pick for commerce secretary and Michael Froman for U.S. trade representative, there’s only a single, lonely vacant slot left in the second-term Cabinet — the Cabinet-rank job of administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

So, with the band nearly all together, how did Obama do on maintaining diversity in the exclusive club? Not great. And for those who expected more minorities — especially Latinos — not good at all.

Conversely, the number of white men in Cabinet-level jobs increased from eight in the first round to likely 10 in this term.

With the addition of Prizker, there would be seven women holding Cabinet or Cabinet-rank jobs. That’s one fewer than were in his first.

And the addition of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx , who was nominated Monday to be transportation secretary, would bring the number of black members to three, down from four in the first term.

The ranks of Asian Americans are much slimmer, too, from a high of three in the first term to only one in the second.

In perhaps the biggest problem for Obama, the Latino presence is also taking a hit, despite the support that Hispanics provided Obama in the 2012 election — and their ongoing electoral importance. After the departure of Hilda Solis as labor secretary and Ken Salazar as interior secretary, there are no Latinos in the Cabinet — though Obama has nominated Tom Perez to replace Solis.

That would not be enough for some Hispanic leaders.

“We believe that Latinos have earned the opportunity to be well represented in the president’s second term,” said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza. “It would be unacceptable to go from two Cabinet members to just one. While we are disappointed by the pace, the nominations process is not yet done and we fully expect to have at least two Hispanics in the President’s Cabinet.”

Assuming that all the pending nominees are confirmed — Foxx, Perez, Gina McCarthy for the Environmental Protection Agency, Ernest Moniz for Energy and Thursday’s additions — that brings us back to the small-business administrator.

Sources said that Obama had met in the Oval Office last week with a Hispanic woman who was a leading contender — if not the actual pick — for the job. But she ran into some vetting problems and, by Monday, was no longer being considered.

That raises the prospect that the second-term team may include no Latinas, but we’re hearing the White House is committed to filling the job with a Hispanic — and soon.

With Emily Heil

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