Thompson Leaves Open Possible Return to Second-Term Cabinet as HHS Secretary
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who previously said he did not expect to be in his position when the new Medicare law takes effect, last week indicated that he has not yet discussed with President Bush whether he will remain in his current post in the second-term Cabinet, the Washington Post reports in Al Kamen's "In The Loop" column. In December, Thompson said, "I can assure you I will not be here in January 2006," adding that he will "have everything set up and operating smoothly before" he leaves.
However, Thompson, speaking last week in a conference call with reporters about an anthrax vaccine, said in response to a question about his future: "The president and I haven't had a chance to talk" about the second-term Cabinet. Thompson said, "Clearly this will be left up to the president," adding, "All I can tell you -- this is a discussion about anthrax -- we'll have to talk about my future some other time." According to the Post, Thompson, if he is no longer HHS secretary, might remain in the Cabinet "if there is a chance he'll be able to run the Department of Transportation, which is what he really wanted in the first place at the beginning of the Bush administration" (Kamen, Washington Post, 11/12).