HHS Secretary Thompson Resigns From Cabinet Position
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned on Friday, the AP/Washington Post reports (Fournier, AP/Washington Post, 12/3). He likely will be replaced by CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, according to an unnamed Republican with ties to the Bush administration, the New York Times reports (Stevenson/Drew, New York Times, 12/3).
Moreover, some observers have speculated that HHS Deputy Secretary Claude Allen also is being considered for the Cabinet position, "adding fuel to the fire of a resignation," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Some Thompson associates have said that he is no longer interested in the position as secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, viewing it now as "a step down," the Journal Sentinel reports. Those close to Thompson also have said that he would not join Aurora Health Care. The Journal Sentinel speculates that Thompson could enter the private sector while maintaining a role in public policy, such as by serving on a presidential Social Security reform commission.
Dutko Group lobbyist David Beightol said, "[Thompson] can play in the state sphere and in the federal sphere. He has expertise in health care." He added, "He's going to have a position that's big enough to accommodate his appetite for public policy and something that's going to stimulate him as much as being governor and secretary of HHS has" (Skiba, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 12/2).
Bush on Thursday nominated Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R) as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Cox/Indianapolis Star, 12/3). The Senate is likely to confirm the appointment, the Times reports.
According to the New York Times, Johanns "is likely to face an array of challenges in his new job," including effort to improve food safety and national nutrition. Officials for the Center for Science in the Public Interest have called on Johanns to "focus on improving the healthiness and nutritional value of school lunches, to encourage access to fruits and vegetables through programs for low-income people and to tighten food safety standards," according to the New York Times (New York Times, 12/3). CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, "Right now, USDA probably does more to promote heart disease and obesity than it does to prevent them" (Chen, Los Angeles Times, 12/3).