Salazar, 6 others confirmed for Cabinet-level posts

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the next leader of the Interior Department shortly after Barack Obama took his oath of office.

Salazar’s nomination was one of seven appointments the Senate approved Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate’s actions came three days after Salazar, Colorado’s senior senator, submitted his formal letter of resignation Saturday.

“I carry with me a firm and unyielding belief that there is no limit to what we can accomplish, that there is no problem we cannot solve, so long as we remember that we are in this together,” Salazar wrote in his letter.

Salazar’s nomination won praise from Republicans and Democrats alike when he appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week.

“I think your reputation as a consensus builder and centrist will serve you well,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said during the Jan. 15 hearing.

Michael Bennet, the man Gov. Bill Ritter selected to replace Salazar, is expected to join the Senate by the end of the month.

Democratic hopes to add Secretary of State nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton to that list were sidetracked when one senator, Republican John Cornyn of Texas, objected to the unanimous

Cornyn said he still had concerns about foreign donations to the foundation headed by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. Senate leaders agreed to have a roll call vote on Clinton today after three hours of debate.

The Senate also comfirmed Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary.  After her confirmation, Napolitano, a Democrat, resigned as Arizona governor. The action elevated Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer to the governor’s office.

Also confirmed were Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, as energy secretary; Arne Duncan as education secretary; Eric Shinseki as veterans secretary; Thomas Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, as agriculture secretary; and Peter R. Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Associated Press and The New York Times contributed to this report.


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