A New President Takes Office

barackcovershotjpgWhen President Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20, he brought with him a team of top advisers and members of his cabinet to help him as he tries to fulfill his promise of bringing change to the country. The United States cabinet currently has 15 positions. They are officers nominated by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate. Here’s a look at four of the cabinet members joining Obama in Washington, D.C.

arne-duncanArne Duncan

Cabinet position: Secretary of Education

Responsibilities: Heads the Department of Education and makes decisions about the direction of national education policy

Qualifications: Seven years as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Chicago Public Schools, one of the country’s largest public school districts with more than 400,000 students

What to expect: More funding for and reform of the No Child Left Behind Act, which allows districts to shut down schools that don’t perform well on standardized tests

tom-daschleTom Daschle
Cabinet position: Secretary of Health and Human Services

Responsibilities: Heads the Department of Health and Human Services; advises the president on public health issues

Qualifications: Former senator; worked as an adviser to lobbyists (people paid to push for laws that are good for special interests) on behalf of a law firm representing several large health-care related companies

What to expect: Wants to set up a new Federal Health Board to regulate which treatments are the most cost-effective; supports creating a public plan

robert-gatesRobert Gates

Cabinet position: Secretary of Defense

Responsibilities: Heads the Department of Defense; advises the president on waging war and the use of military forces

Qualifications: Appointed to the same job by President Bush in 2006; oversaw expanded troop levels

What to expect: Has called for $69.7 billion to fight the war in Iraq through next year, and for 20,000 more troops in Afghanistan

hllaryclintonHillary Clinton

Cabinet position: Secretary of State

Responsibilities: Serves as the president’s chief adviser on foreign affairs; heads the State Department, which manages all the embassies overseas; negotiates with foreign countries

Qualifications: Former first lady during the Clinton administration; two terms as a U.S. senator

What to expect: Initially supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, favored using military threats as a means of diplomacy, received large donations from weapons manufacturers

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