Clyburn slams brakes on Cabinet talk

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Wednesday evening that he is not interested in joining President Obama's Cabinet, despite a push from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to have him considered for Transportation secretary. 

The CBC was pushing Obama consider Clyburn to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as Obama has been under pressure to appoint more women and minorities to Cabinet positions.

However, a spokesman for Clyburn said in a statement provided to The Hill that the longtime South Carolina lawmaker was staying put in the House.

"He's proud and honored that some of his colleagues think enough of him to recommend him for Transportation Secretary, but the only job change Mr. Clyburn is working on is once again becoming Majority Whip when the American people reject the Republicans' failed leadership and extreme partisan gamesmanship and Democrats win back the House," Clyburn spokesman Patrick Delvin said in response to the Department of Transportation (DOT) speculation.

Clyburn is currently highest ranking African-American in the House of Representatives, and he is the third highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber.

Obama's initial round of Cabinet picks were all white men, but the CBC said in a letter to the president that the eleven-term lawmaker Clyburn would be a good choice for Transportation secretary

"It is with great privilege that I recommend the Assistant Democratic Leader, Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, for the position of Secretary of the Department of Transportation," CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) wrote to Obama.

"Congressman Clyburn’s legacy of public service to the American people and to the citizens of his Congressional district is one of honor and distinction," Fudge continued. "It is without reservation that I urge you to strongly consider this recommendation."

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Fudge has suggested other CBC members to Obama for potential Cabinet appointments. She recommended others Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for Labor secretary and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) for the Commerce Department.

However, Obama has been rumored to instead be leaning toward appointing businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who was a major fundraiser for his presidential campaigns, to the Commerce position.

Speculation on LaHood's replacement at the DOT has centered on National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman Deborah Hersman since LaHood announced his retirement last week.

But Fudge wrote to Obama that Clyburn "is an exceptionally well-qualified, proven candidate."

The White House has been quiet about candidates to replace LaHood at DOT, though the administration has not pushed back on reports that Obama is leaning toward appointing Hersman.

Clyburn was not included on a long list of rumored candidates that initially surfaced after LaHood announced his retirement.  

He was also rumored to be under consideration for a Cabinet position during Obama's first term, but he told a South Carolina newspaper shortly after the 2008 election that he was not interested in joining the administration.

"I have made it very clear I have no interest in leaving Congress," he said at the time in an interview with the Orangeburg, S.C. Times and Democrat.

The longtime South Carolina lawmaker, who was first elected in 1992, ranks behind only Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) in seniority in the House Democratic caucus.

-This post was last updated with new information at 10:45 p.m.