George W. Bush | Presidential Cabinet Members

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Cabinet Members of George W. Bush
The first term

by Beth Rowen

Inaugural Factfile

Biography: George W. Bush

Inaugural Oratory

Presidential Inaugural Addresses

How the President Gets Elected
President George W. Bush wasted no time assembling his cabinet after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor on Dec. 13, 2000, setting the stage for him to become the 43rd president of the United States. He promptly appointed retired Gen. Colin Powell as his choice for secretary of state, a selection lauded by Republicans and Democrats alike.

With his choice of appointees, Bush has assembled a cabinet unprecedented for its inclusiveness. Indeed, he has selected two African Americans, two Asian Americans, four women, and one Cuban American. Of all his nominees, only a few have been criticized by Democrats for their conservative ideology. Several of Bush's choices served under his father, President George Bush, as well as presidents Reagan, Ford, and Nixon.

Bush's initial pick for secretary of labor, Linda Chavez, withdrew after it was revealed that she opened her home to an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, who performed light housekeeping and child care. Chavez said she sporadically gave the woman spending money, which amounted to about $1,500.

Here is a list of President George W. Bush's cabinet appointees:

Secretary of State
Colin Powell Retired Gen. Colin Powell. The ultimate Washington insider, Powell, who has served four presidents, himself considered a run for the presidency in 1996. He boasts a long and formidable résumé, and a G.I. Joe action figure bears his likeness. Powell did a four-year stint as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving under both President Bush and President Clinton. He retired in 1993, and in 1997 he established America's Promise—the Alliance for Youth, a charitable organization formed to help needy and at-risk U.S. children.
Secretary of the Treasury
John Snow John Snow. John Snow became President Bush's second treasury secretary in Feb. 2003, replacing Paul H. O'Neill, whom the president felt had not been an effective spokesman for the administration's economic policies. Before becoming treasury secretary, Snow spent 14 years as the chairman of CSX , the country's largest railroad, and served as an undersecretary in the Department of Transportation during the Ford administration. One of Snow's first major jobs will be selling President Bush's controversial 2003 tax-cut plan.
Secretary of Defense
Donald H RumsfeldDonald H. Rumsfeld. The role as secretary of defense is not a new one for Rumsfeld. He held the same position under President Ford. The role of the U.S. military, however, has changed dramatically since 1975. Rumsfeld has indicated that he favors building an impenetrable national missile defense system. He and Vice President Dick Cheney have strong ties that date back to the Nixon administration, when Cheney served as Rumsfeld's assistant in the Office of Economic Opportunity. In 1974, Rumsfeld led President Ford's transition team, and he brought Cheney, his protégé, to the executive office. When Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense in 1975, Cheney was appointed Ford's chief of staff. Rumsfeld served in Congress from 1962 to 1969 as a representative from Illinois. When President Carter was elected in 1976, Rumsfeld entered the private sector. He recently headed a panel that concluded countries such as North Korea and Iran could eventually have the capacity to launch ballistic missiles at the United States. The commission's report helped to reinvigorate the debate over the need for a national missile defense.
Attorney General
John AshcroftJohn Ashcroft. Arguably the most controversial and conservative of all Bush appointees, Ashcroft faced harsh questioning by Democrats at his confirmation hearings. He was widely criticized for blocking the nomination of Ronnie White to a judgeship on the federal district court. Ashcroft opposed White, who was the first black judge on the Missouri Supreme Court, saying he was "pro-criminal" and "anti-death penalty." However, records indicate that White voted for the death penalty in 41 out of 59 cases. Democrats fear that Ashcroft will use his position to help to overturn Roe v. Wade. Republicans have praised him as a highly ethical and fair-minded politician.

Ashcroft, a Republican senator from Missouri, lost his reelection bid in November to Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash in October, a few weeks before the election. Carnahan's widow, Jean, took her late husband's senate seat. Ashcroft was elected to the Senate in 1995 and served as Missouri's governor from 1984 to 1992.

Secretary of the Interior
Gale A Norton Gale A. Norton. A controversial appointee and a foe of environmentalists, Norton has long advocated opening the Alaska National Refuge to oil exploration, a position shared by President George W. Bush. She is also a proponent of giving states and localities broader jurisdiction over environmental issues. A protégé of President Reagan's interior secretary, James Watt, Norton was associate solicitor in the Interior Department from 1985 to 1987, and she served as attorney general of Colorado from 1990 to 1998.
Secretary of Agriculture
Ann M Veneman Ann M. Veneman. Veneman brings vast experience to Bush's cabinet, having served as President Bush's deputy secretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodities. She is the first woman to head the department. She was California's secretary of food and agriculture from 1995 to 1999.
Secretary of Commerce
Donald Evans Donald Evans. President Bush's best friend, Evans is about to undertake his first position in government. The Commerce Department has traditionally been the area in which presidents position close friends and party stalwarts. Evans headed up the Bush-Cheney campaign and served as national finance chairman for Gov. George W. Bush's gubernatorial campaigns. He has been the chairman and chief executive of Tom Brown, Inc., an oil company, since 1975.
Secretary of Labor
Elaine ChaoElaine Chao. Chao has a distinguished career in public service, having served as President Bush's deputy secretary of transportation from 1989 to 1991. She was the director of the Peace Corps from 1991 to 1992 and then led the United Way from 1992 to 1996. She's currently a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization. She's married to Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. A Chinese immigrant, Chao has said she opposes affirmative action but favors equal opportunity for all. She was appointed two days after Linda Chavez, Bush's first pick for labor secretary, withdrew her name.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Tommy G ThompsonTommy G. Thompson. Thompson was the governor of Wisconsin for an unprecedented 14 years. During his tenure, he was an activist leader and ushered in the nation's most stringent—and innovative—welfare-to-work program. Thompson is pro-life, and as secretary of health and human services, he'll oversee how federal funds are used to fund abortions and family-planning clinics. He served a 20-year stint in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Secretary for Housing and Urban Development
Mel R MartinezMelquiades Rafael Martinez. Cuban-born Martinez came to the United States in 1962, as a participant in an airlift operation in which about 14,000 Cuban children entered the country in the early 1960s. Martinez was elected chairman of Orange County, Fla., in 1998. Prior to that, he served as president of the Orlando Utilities Commission from 1994 to 1997, while maintaining a private law practice. In early 2000, he proposed placing a moratorium on new construction in cities in Orlando County where overcrowding was compromising the quality of life for residents. Builders were outraged and are fighting the proposal.
Secretary of Transportation
Norman Y MinetaNorman Yoshio Mineta. The lone Democrat appointed to Bush's cabinet, Mineta was offered the same job in the Clinton administration, but passed so he could continue as chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee. He served for 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. When he retired in 1995, he became senior vice president in the Transportation and Services Division of Lockheed Martin. In July 2000, he became President Clinton's secretary of commerce. When he was 10 years old, Mineta and his family were sent to a Japanese-American internment camp. As a congressman, he sponsored a bill to compensate internees. The legislation passed, and former internees were paid $20,000.
Secretary of Energy
Spencer AbrahamSpencer Abraham. As a senator from Michigan, Abraham on three occasions proposed eliminating the department he is now slated to head, saying it had "no core mission." Energy was not the only department on his hit list; he also suggested the Commerce Department be eliminated. He served one term as a senator, and was defeated in the November elections. Abraham served as co-chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 1990 to 1992 and briefly as the deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle.
Secretary of Education
Roderick PaigeRoderick Paige. As superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, Paige has revitalized the country's seventh-largest district, forcing students caught with weapons to be expelled or placed in alternative schools, penalizing administrators who head failing schools, prorating principals' salaries to student performance, and markedly increasing student test scores. He has indicated he would consider vouchers to help send students to private school using public funds. He was elected to the Houston Independent School District Board of Education in 1989, and from 1971 to 1990, he held several positions with Texas Southern University.
Secretary of Veterans' Affairs
Anthony J PrincipiAnthony J. Principi. This is Principi's second time as head of Veterans' Affairs. He served as deputy secretary of the department under President George Bush, and became acting secretary when Secretary Edward Derwinski stepped down, under pressure from the president. Veterans groups hailed Principi as an experienced leader well equipped to guide the department.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Tom RidgeTom Ridge. Tom Ridge, the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, served as the Erie County, Pennsylvania, representative from 1982–1995, when he was elected governor of Pennsylvania. In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush named Ridge director of the Office of Homeland Security. Ridge now heads up the newly created Department of Homeland Security, which is a consolidation of 22 federal agencies, the most massive government reorganization since 1947. Ridge is charged with bringing the federal agencies together under one umbrella to prevent future terrorist attacks.

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