Filling the Cabinet
Following the resignation of Tom Price, President Trump now has two vacant Cabinet positions—Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS). HHS Secretary Price resigned following his abuse of taxpayer-funded travel, and DHS Secretary John Kelly is now the White House Chief of Staff. Of course, lower officials within the respective Departments are currently Acting Secretaries until Trump can fill the positions.
So who will Trump select to replace Price and Kelly? Whoever he chooses, he should do so soon, so he can have a complete Cabinet. Below are some potential nominees for HHS and DHS. Some of these names have been floated by pundits and insiders. Some of them are personal suggestions. Take a look!
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Former U.S. Senator and two-time Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has been suggested by insiders as a potential replacement for Tom Price. The Pennsylvanian has been in the news lately due to his efforts to pass the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson healthcare bill. Santorum is a social conservative, but is less conservative on a few economic issues. As a man with knowledge of policy and Capitol Hill, he could be an asset to Trump’s team, especially at the agency that will push for legislative change to ObamaCare.
Former Governor of Louisiana and 2016 Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is an expert on healthcare and health policy. He studied health policy at the University of Oxford before serving as Louisiana’s Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. President Bush later nominated him to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, and he was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. Jindal’s familiarity with the Department and his gubernatorial awareness of federalism would make him an excellent Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Seema Verma is Trump’s Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS is an agency within the HHS Department, and Verma is no stranger to the Department and its functions. She has already received one Senate confirmation this year, so Trump can assume she will be confirmed once again. As a close friend and former health policy advisor to Mike Pence, Verma may have an advantage in Trump’s selection process. Regardless, she would make an excellent HHS Secretary.
Like Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has already been confirmed to an HHS position this year. Unlike Verma and the other potential nominees, Gottlieb is actually a physician. He has a wide variety of health policy experience on Capitol Hill, but his ties to certain healthcare companies might be a P.R. drawback if he were nominated. I am sure he would do well as Secretary, but I would not want him to be a blotch in the administration.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Elaine Duke is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and has served as Acting Secretary following John Kelly’s departure. She could possible be appointed to serve as DHS Secretary officially. Duke served in the DHS under Presidents Obama and Bush, and has other experience in the federal government. I have not seen anything specific to give me concern, but I don’t know enough to support her nomination definitively.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry would make an excellent Secretary of Homeland Security. As Governor of Texas, he saw the need for border security firsthand. As an Air Force veteran, he knows the importance of all types of homeland security. I firmly believe that he would be a terrific addition to the DHS. His appointment would of course open up a vacancy in the Department of Energy, and Trump would have to make another appointment.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Michael McCaul, the Chair of the equivalent House committee, was previously under consideration for DHS Secretary, so it is conceivable that Johnson is also a possible contender. Aside from his committee work, Senator Johnson has no homeland security experience, but he could make a decent Secretary and Cabinet member. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would then appoint a new Senator.
There may be more potential nominees for these positions, but I listed the major ones. I believe all of them would be good, and most of them would be great. I hope President Trump chooses wisely.