Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Swearings In. Goings Out.

A busy day in Washington today as the 112th Congress is sworn in, press secretary Robert Gibbs talks about leaving; and the First Lady gains a new Chief of Staff.
The 112th Congress

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., administered the oath today during the noon-time ceremony that saw the Democratic party relinquishing its reign to their rival Repbulican party.

Republicans hold a 242-193 majority in the House and plan to make their voices heard, promising to challenge the president on all fronts (as they have been doing), especially on the president's Health Reform bill.

Outgoing Democratic Housespeaker Nancy Pelosi transfers the gavel of power over to Republic HouseSpeaker John Boehner.   A/P photo.
 "The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions" , said Boehner.
The 112 Congress consists of House of RepresentativesSpeaker: John Boehner (R) / Majority (Republican) LeadershipMajority Leader: Eric Cantor / Majority Whip: Kevin McCarthy / Majority Chief Deputy Whip: Peter Roskam / Conference Chair: Jeb Hensarling / Campaign Committee Chairman: Pete Sessions / Policy Committee Chairman: Tom Price / Conference Vice-Chair: Cathy McMorris-Rodgers / Conference Secretary: John Carter /

The Democratic Minority Leadership consists of Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi / Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer / Assistant Minority Leader: Jim Clyburn / Senior Chief Deputy Minority Whip: John Lewis / Chief Deputy Minority Whips: Maxine Waters, Jim Matheson, Ed Pastor, Jan Schakowsky, Joseph Crowley, Diana DeGette, G.K. Butterfield, Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Caucus Chairman: John B. Larson / Caucus Vice-Chairman: Xavier Becerra / Campaign Committee Chairman: Steve Israel.

Congress convenes Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.


Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Confirms He's Leaving In 2011

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told White House press corps today he just needs a break. 

Gibbs, 39, has worked closely with Obama since campaigning for then Senator Obama in 2008.  He said he would continue to advise the president and help aide his 2012 campaign.

No official leave date has been given but Gibbs said his last day would be "sometime toward the beginning of February."

White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, addresses the media on his decision to step down at the end of January, 2011.
Photo/CD Brown.
The real reason for leaving?:  "Recharging", said Gibbs.

"What I'm going to do next is step back a little bit, recharge some. We've been going at this pace for at least four years. I will have an opportunity I hope to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this President. And I look forward to continuing to do that."

Said President Obama on Gibbs' departure:  “For the last six years, Robert has been a close friend, one of my closest advisers and an effective advocate from the podium for what this administration has been doing to move America forward.  I think it’s natural for him to want to step back, reflect and retool.  That brings up some challenges and opportunities for the White House – but it doesn’t change the important role that Robert will continue to play on our team.”

Both the press secretary's Twitter and and Facebook accounts will continue after Gibbs' tenure .  "We want to continue the dialogue through social media", said Gibbs.

"I got on something like Twitter largely from watching you guys tweet while the President was standing right here.  And it’s a fascinating concept.  All this stuff moves much faster.  I think that will endure", said Gibbs.

Gibbs called his job as press secretary "the opportunity of a lifetime. Something I'll will be forever grateful for."

While Gibbs may be forever grateful for his opportunity, he admits he hads not had a vacation in over seven years. "When was the last time I took a vacation and didn’t take my BlackBerry?, It’s probably been almost seven years", said Gibbs. 

He said taking a vacation "will be nice".

When asked if he'd come back to work with President Obama should the president win a second term, Gibbs commented, “Well, I’m not going to -- I wouldn’t close the door.”

Video/First Question: Gibbs answers why he's leaving.

First Lady's New Chief of Staff
In other White House news, the First Lady has tapped Christina (Tina) Chen as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady.
“I am thrilled to welcome Tina to my team". said First Lady Obama. 

"I have admired her work with the White House Council on Women and Girls and her leadership with the Office of Public Engagement.  Tina’s tenure at the White House has focused on ensuring that communities across the country have a voice and a presence at the White House, and her office has worked closely with mine to develop many of our outreach efforts, so she was the natural choice for this role.  We particularly share a commitment to nurturing young women and utilizing the White House as a platform for education and inclusion, and I look forward to continuing that work together." 

Tchen was previously a partner in corporate litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. In that capacity, Tchen represented public agencies in state and federal class actions, including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and the Chicago Housing Authority. Tchen is the recipient of many awards, including the Leadership Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (1999); "Women of Achievement" award from the Anti-Defamation League (1996); and Chicago Lawyer "Person of the Year" (1994).

Mrs. Obama, who has known Tchen for twenty years, said Chen has the right experience to lead her team. 

"[Tchen's] reaching out to people across the country and encouraging Americans from all walks of life to feel connected to this White House, makes her uniquely qualified to step up to this position. I look forward to working with her in the years ahead to develop effective strategies for the Let’s Move! campaign, to broaden our work on behalf of military families, to continue the arts and cultural events in the White House, and to advance our international agenda.”

Tchen, who will continue to serve as Executive Director of the Council in her new position.

Congressional Black Caucus Swearing In Ceremony
Swearing In of the 112th Congress
What Happens When A New Congress Begins?

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