A Senate committee approved unanimously Tuesday the nominations of Robert Mosbacher to be commerce secretary and Samuel Skinner to be transportation secretary, moving both men toward final confirmation.
While hearings continued for other nominees to President Bush's Cabinet, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee gave swift approval to Mosbacher and Skinner, and Senate leaders planned a vote in the full chamber later in the day."They're going to be excellent Cabinet members," predicted Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who praised Bush's "remarkable job" in choosing Mosbacher and Skinner.
Mosbacher, 61, is a veteran Republican fund-raiser and Bush supporter who shares a long friendship with the new president, both being sons of Wall Street financiers who sought to increase family wealth with Texas oil.
While chairman and chief executive officer of his own firm, Mosbacher Energy Co. in Houston, the millionaire served as finance chairman of Bush's White House campaign and was seen immediately as a top contender for the Commerce Department post, which will require dealing with global business interests while implementing new trade laws in an effort to cut the U.S. trade deficit.
Skinner, 50, is a former U.S. attorney in Illinois who most recently served as chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, the agency that overseas mass transit in the six-county Chicago area.
Skinner never has held elective office but has been active in GOP politics for years, serving as chairman for various projects, including as campaign director for the Illinois Bush-Quayle '88 campaign.
Before Tuesday's action, three of Bush's senior nominees had cleared the Senate approval process and had been sworn into office: Secretary of State James Baker, Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole and Office of Management and Budget Director Richard Darman.