President-elect Bush has nearly completed his Cabinet with a flurry of surprise announcements, naming a black educator, a conservationist, a retiring Hispanic lawmaker, a State Department official and a transit expert to key jobs.
Only two Cabinet positions - at the departments of labor and energy - remain unfilled."I'm not sure when those announcements will be forthcoming, but I would again say fairly soon," Bush said Thursday after he picked five men for a variety of positions. So far he has named 12 Cabinet members.
Among those mentioned as possible choices for labor secretary are Patricia Diaz Dennis, a federal communications commissioner, and Constance Horner, head of the Office of Personnel Management.
In the running for the energy slot are former Louisiana Rep. Henson Moore and Peter Johnson, former head of the Bonneville Power Administration.
Bush was working in his office Friday, but he has no public schedule. He plans to spend the Christmas weekend with his family at the vice president's house before leaving Monday on a four-day hunting and fishing trip to Texas and Alabama.
Two of Bush's Cabinet choices, Dr. Louis Sullivan as secretary of health and human services, and Samuel Skinner as head of the Transportation Department, were expected in advance.
Sullivan, 55, the president of Morehouse School of Medicine and the first black chosen for the Cabinet, publicly reassured anti-abortion activists that he opposes abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is threatened. He said his views run parallel to Bush's on the issue.
Skinner, 50, a former prosecutor and head of the Regional Transportation Authority of Northeastern Illinois, the second largest transportation system in the nation, had been expected to get the Bush administration job.
Bush described Skinner as an "effective and visionary transportation leader."
The president-elect made three unexpected announcements, picking retiring Rep. Manuel Lujan, R-N.M., to head the Interior Department; former Illinois Rep. Edward J. Derwinski for veterans affairs, and conservationist William Reilly as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA does not have Cabinet status, though Bush said Reilly's mission is one of "tremendous importance," and he added: "I expect to be a very active president in protecting the environment."
The selection of Reilly, 48, a native of Decatur, Ill., who is president of the Conservation Foundation and the U.S. affiliate of the World Wildlife Fund, was cheered by environmentalists. "A brilliant choice," said Paul Pritchard, president of the National Parks and Conservation Association. Reilly, a Harvard-trained lawyer, said he thought he was the first conservationist selected for the EPA post.
Former colleagues of Derwinski's said they were surprised by Bush's pick but thought the undersecretary of state for security assistance, science and technology would do a good job at the new Department of Veterans Affairs.
"His name had never even surfaced," said Rep. G.V. Montgomery, D-Miss., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Derwinski, 62, a World War II veteran, knew Bush when the two served in the House in the early 1970s. He lost his seat after redistricting in 1982, and since then he has held a variety of jobs at the State Department.
Another unexpected move came when Bush selected Lujan, 60, for interior secretary. A veteran of two decades in Congress, Lujan is the second Hispanic in the Cabinet, joining Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos of Texas.
Lujan, who did not seek re-election, was a member of the House Interior Committee and ranking Republican on the House Committee on Science and Technology.