Obama rounds out cabinet with trade, transport, labour posts

December 20th, 2008 - 9:04 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 20 (DPA) US president-elect Barack Obama filled out his cabinet Friday by naming his picks for trade, labour and transport.Obama promised to have a “strong, robust” trade policy as he named former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as the US trade representative. But he also vowed to protect the interests of US workers as he nominated US congresswoman Hilda Solis to head the Department of Labour.

“There is nothing inconsistent about standing up for free trade and standing up for American workers,” Obama said.

The appointments represented a mixed bag for labour unions, a key constituency of Obama’s Democratic Party.

Union leaders praised the choice of Solis but were uneasy over the pick of Kirk, who has spoken positively on some controversial trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Obama also picked Ray LaHood, a Republican and former congressman, to lead the Department of Transportation, which will play a key role as Obama plans increased spending in transportation infrastructure to jump-start the sagging US economy.

Obama has promised a bipartisan approach to politics in Washington. LaHood is the second Republican named to the cabinet, after Obama chose to keep current Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

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