[White House Transcript]
10:27 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning,
everybody. This afternoon, I’ll hold my first Cabinet meeting of
my second term. And there will be some new faces, and there will
be some familiar faces in new jobs. But there will also be some
seats waiting to be filled on a permanent basis. And today, I’m
announcing my plan to nominate three outstanding individuals to help us
tackle some of our most important challenges.
One of those challenges is building on the work that we've done to
control our own energy future while reducing pollution that contributes
to climate change. And few people have played more of a role in
addressing these issues than current Secretary of Energy Steven
Chu. Steven has helped us to speed the transition to more
sustainable sources of energy. He’s given more of our brightest
young scientists the opportunity to pursue the ideas that will shape
our future. So I could not be more grateful to Steve for the
incredible contribution that he’s made to this country.
And now that he’s decided to leave Washington for sunny California, I’m
proud to nominate another brilliant scientist to take his place -- Mr.
Ernie Moniz. There’s Ernie right there. (Applause.)
Now, the good news is that Ernie already knows his way around the
Department of Energy. He is a physicist by training, but he also
served as Under Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.
Since then, he’s directed MIT’s Energy Initiative, which brings
together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the
technologies that can lead us to more energy independence and also to
Most importantly, Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow
our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our
climate. And so I could not be more pleased to have Ernie join
us. And he will be joined in that effort by my nominee to lead
the Environmental Protection Agency.
Over the last four years, Lisa Jackson and her team at the EPA have
helped us to reduce emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that
causes climate change, put in place the toughest new pollution
standards in two decades. Lisa is now ready for a well-deserved
break. And I want to very much thank Bob Perciasepe, who’s not
only been a great Deputy Administrator, but has also been acting as the
Acting Administrator. So, please, Bob -- everybody give Bob a big
round of applause. (Applause.)
As we move forward, I think there is nobody who can do a better job in
filling Lisa’s shoes permanently than my nominee who’s standing beside
me here -- Gina McCarthy. (Applause.)
Now, you wouldn't know from talking to her, but Gina is from
Boston. (Laughter.) And one of her proudest moments was
yelling “Play ball!” at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game. But
Gina has got plenty more to be proud of. As a top environmental
official in Massachusetts and Connecticut, she helped design programs
to expand energy efficiency and promote renewable energy. As
Assistant EPA Administrator, Gina has focused on practical,
cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy
growing. She’s earned a reputation as a straight shooter.
She welcomes different points of views. I’m confident that she’s
going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.
So these two over here, they're going to be making sure that we're
investing in American energy, that we're doing everything that we can
to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating
jobs and economic opportunity in the first place. They are going
to be a great team. And these are some of my top priorities going
But as President, one of the things you learn very quickly is that it's
not enough just to talk a big game; the real test is whether your
priorities are reflected in a budget. And that’s where the rubber
hits the road. That’s where my third nominee comes in.
Since I took office, Jeff Zients has served as America’s first Chief
Performance Officer and the Deputy Director of the management --
Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget.
He's made our government more efficient. He's saved taxpayers a
lot of money. He’s stepped in as Acting Director of OMB not once,
but twice, including leading up to the fiscal cliff. So there’s
no question that Jeff’s skill and versatility have served the American
people very well. I expect it will continue to serve us well in
In the meantime, I am confident that my nominee for OMB Director,
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is the right person to continue Jeff's great
In the 1990s, when she was, what, 19 -- (laughter) -- Sylvia served
under Jack Lew as Deputy Director of OMB -- part of a team that
presided over three budget surpluses in a row. Later, she helped
the Gates Foundation grow into a global force for good, and then she
helped the Walmart Foundation expand its charitable work. So
Sylvia knows her way around a budget.
But as the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, she also understands that
our goal when we put together a budget is not just to make the numbers
add up. Our goal is also to reignite the true engine of economic
growth in this country, and that is a strong and growing middle class
-- to offer ladders of opportunity for anybody willing to climb them.
Sylvia's mom is here. And Sylvia loves to talk about her parents
growing up in West Virginia and the values that they instilled in her
as educators. And I think that reflects everything that Sylvia
now does. And so I'm absolutely confident that she's going to do
a great job at OMB. And those values are especially important to
remember now, as we continue to try and find a way forward in light of
the budget cuts that are already starting to cost us jobs and hurt our
As I said before, the American people are resilient. And I know
that Jeff and Sylvia will do everything in their power to blunt the
impact of these cuts on businesses and middle-class families. But
eventually, a lot of people are going to feel some pain. That’s
why we've got to keep on working to reduce our deficit in a balanced
way -- an approach that's supported by the majority of the American
people, including a majority of Republicans. And I'm confident
that we can get there if people of goodwill come together.
So I want to thank Steve and Lisa and Jeff once more for their
outstanding service, for all the great work that they’ve done in this
administration over the last several years. I want to thank
Ernie, Gina and Sylvia, and their families, for agreeing to take on
these big roles.
I hope the Senate will confirm them as soon as possible, because we’ve
got a lot of work to do and we cannot afford delay. But I can promise
you that as soon as the Senate gives them the go ahead, they're going
to hit the ground running and they're going to help make America a
stronger and more prosperous country.
So thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)