Bye-bye, President Obama

Janet Napolitano’s Friday announcement that she would step down as Homeland Security secretary to take the top spot at the University of California is just the latest personnel move in President Obama’s Cabinet.

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In his four-plus years in the Oval Office, Obama has seen key members of his administration depart for a variety of reasons, ranging from funding frustrations to practical burnout.

Six of Obama’s original team remain in their Cabinet position: Attorney General Eric Holder; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services; Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Education Secretary Arne Duncan; and Eric Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The Hill takes a look at where 17 others who have served in Obama’s Cabinet, or in Cabinet-rank positions, have gone:

Secretary of State:

Current: John Kerry

Previously: Hillary Rodham Clinton (Jan. 2009 – Feb. 2013)

Clinton left Foggy Bottom after four grueling years of globetrotting as America’s top diplomat. And of course, armed with her new Twitter feed, much of Washington is watching for clues about whether the former New York senator will make another run for the White House in 2016.

Treasury Secretary:

Current: Jack Lew

Previously: Tim Geithner (Jan. 2009 – Jan. 2013)

Geithner headed back to New York after the "fiscal cliff," after being immersed in fiscal fires and dragdown budget battles during his stint in Washington. The former head of the New York Fed, who held that position during the 2008 fiscal crisis, is now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and scored a book deal.

Defense Secretary:

Current: Chuck Hagel

Previously: Robert Gates (Dec. 2006 – July 2011)

A holdover from George W. Bush’s administration, Gates suggested in 2010 that it would be a mistake for Obama to try to find a replacement in a presidential election year. Still, Gates’s four-and-a-half years heading the Pentagon is among the longest for Defense secretaries.

Leon Panetta (July 2011 – Feb. 2013)

Panetta, first elected to Congress in 1976 and previously CIA director, decided to retire almost a half century after he joined the Army. He returned to his walnut farm in California, where, he joked, he would be “dealing with a different set of nuts” than in Washington.

Interior Secretary:

Current: Sally Jewell

Previously: Ken Salazar (Jan. 2009 – April 2013)

Salazar returned to Colorado, whose voters sent him to the Senate in 2004, after an eventful tenure that included the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Commerce Secretary:

Current: Penny Pritzker

Previously: Gary Locke (March 2009 – Aug. 2011)

A former Washington governor, Locke left Commerce to cross the Pacific and take over as ambassador to China. In Beijing, he replaced Jon Huntsman – who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president last year.

John Bryson (Oct. 2011 – June 2012)

Bryson, a former energy executive in California, resigned after only eight months on the job, after he suffered a seizure and was involved in a series of car crashes. The Senate did not confirm a successor to Bryson for more than a year.

Labor Secretary:

Current: Seth Harris (Acting); Tom Perez (Nominee)

Previously: Hilda Solis (Feb. 2009 - Jan. 2013)

A former congresswoman, Solis stepped down amid chatter she would seek a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Transportation Secretary:

Current: Anthony Foxx

Previously: Ray LaHood (Jan. 2009 – July 2013)

An advocate for high-speed rail and against distracted driving, LaHood left the administration after growing frustrated with the battles in Congress over how to fund highway and transit programs.

Energy Secretary:

Current: Ernest Moniz

Previously: Steven Chu (Jan. 2009 – April 2013)

A Nobel Prize winner, Chu returned to academic life in the Bay Area, at Stanford. His tenure saw the administration pour resources into clean and efficient energy – to the consternation at times of Republicans, who saw those technologies as a risky bet.

White House Chief of Staff:

Currently: Denis McDonough

Previously: Rahm Emanuel (Jan. 2009 – Oct. 2010)

The famously bombastic Emanuel, in place for many of Obama’s signature achievement, left to seek – and eventually secure – the Chicago mayor’s office.

Previously: William Daley (Jan. 2011 – Jan. 2012)

Another Chicagoan, Daley left for home even after the president pressed him to stay. Known to be business-friendly, Daley had been unable to help hash out a bipartisan budget deal, and gave up some day-to-day operations to Pete Rouse before departing.

Previously: Jack Lew (Jan. 2012 – Jan. 2013)

 

Obama shifted Lew, a known budget wonk, to Treasury as tax-and-spending issues continue to be one of the central issues in Washington.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator:

Current: Robert Perciasepe (Acting)

Previously: Lisa Jackson (Jan. 2009 – Feb. 2013)

After an at times frustrating tenure, Jackson landed as top environmental officer at the tech giant Apple.

Office of Management and Budget Director:

Currently: Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Previously: Peter Orszag (Jan. 2009 – July 2010)

Orszag, who eventually landed at Citigroup, was perhaps the first major figure to leave the Obama administration, doing so not long after the passage of the signature healthcare law.

Previously: Jack Lew (Nov. 2010 – Jan. 2012)

Lew's switch from OMB to White House chief of staff, after being a key player in ultimately unsuccessful grand bargain talks, illustrated the importance of budget issues in the 2012 election year.

U.S. Trade Representative:

Currently: Michael Froman

Previously: Ron Kirk (March 2009 - March 2013)

A former Dallas mayor, Kirk returned to the Lone Star state to practice law with Gibson Dunn, a move he said would allow him to stay connected to global issues.


U.S. Ambassador to United Nations:

Current: Rosemary DiCarlo (Acting)

Previously: Susan Rice (Jan. 2009 – July 2013)

Rice’s assertions, shortly after the Benghazi attack, that there wasn’t evidence that the assault was planned derailed any chance she had at potentially getting confirmed for secretary of State. Obama later tapped her to be National Security Adviser, a position that doesn’t require the Senate’s consent.

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