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10 Cards in this Set

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Bush accepts resignation from NASA Administrator O’Keefe

By Todd Halvorson

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe resigned from the nation’s space agency Monday and the Bush administration lauded him for a job well done. O’Keefe, 48, is a top candidate for the post of chancellor at Louisiana State University, a $500,000 a year job. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said O’Keefe submitted his letter of resignation and that Bush accepted it.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters today that O’Keefe already had informed the administration of his plans.

“Administrator O’Keefe had previously indicated to us that he is planning on leaving,” McClellan said during his daily briefing with reporters at the White House. He added that O’Keefe “is someone the president believes has done a great job over at NASA, and we appreciate the work that he has done.”
O’Keefe, a former deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, came to NASA in 2001 and is credited with reining in a $5 billion cost overrun in the agency’s cornerstone project for the 21st century – the International Space Station.

To do so, though, NASA was forced to stop work on a U.S. dormitory module, an American crew rescue ship and a propulsion module for the outpost. Plans to expand the size of station crews to seven were put on indefinite hold as a result. Additionally, NASA remains obligated to provide crew rescue capability for the outpost after Russia’s commitment to do so ends in April 2006.
O’Keefe also is credited with shepherding NASA through the traumatic period after shuttle Columbia and seven astronauts were lost during an ill-fated atmospheric reentry in February 2003

The accident grounded the shuttle fleet, brought construction of the international station to a halt and forced NASA and its station partners to cut from three to two the size of outpost crews.
NASA’s three remaining shuttle orbiters won’t return to flight until at least May 2005 and station construction will remain on hold until late 2005 or 2006. O’Keefe also played a major role in formulating a new direction for NASA, one which promises to take U.S. astronauts beyond Earth orbit for the first time since the early 1970s.
The outgoing NASA chief was integral in developing Bush’s new vision for space exploration, which calls for astronauts to return to the moon by 2020 in preparation for subsequent missions to Mars.

O’Keefe’s departure would be the latest in a series of high-level changes in the Bush administration as the president embarks on his second term in office. Retired Air Force. Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, the former director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, is thought to be the top candidate to replace O’Keefe.
President Bush has nominated EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt to replace Tommy Thompson as Health and Human Services secretary.

Before joining the Environmental Protection Agency in November 2003, Leavitt, 53, was governor of Utah for 11 years.

"He has managed the EPA with skill and with a focus on results," Bush said from the White House Roosevelt Room.

Bush said he plans to implement the first prescription drug benefit for seniors and has called for expanding the services provided by faith-based groups and continuing medical research "always ensuring that the work is carried out with vigor and moral integrity."
"I look forward, as the president said, to the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006, medical liability reform and finding ways to reduce the cost of health care," Leavitt said.

"I am persuaded that we can use technology and innovation to meet our most noble aspirations and not compromise our other values that we hold so dear."

Born in Cedar City, Utah, Leavitt graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and business from Southern Utah University.

He went on to become president and chief executive officer of a regional insurance firm. He and his wife, Jacalyn, have five children.

Nine of Bush's 15 Cabinet secretaries have tendered their resignations, and the president has nominated replacements for all. Bernard Kerik, however, withdrew his name from consideration for Homeland Security secretary on Friday night.
The nine departures mark the largest second-term Cabinet overhaul in more than 30 years. Presidents Reagan and Clinton each had seven Cabinet changes for their second terms. The last to have nine was Richard Nixon in 1972.

The Senate must confirm all of the nominees. Confirmation hearings have been scheduled for Margaret Spellings, nominated for education secretary, on January 6, and Condoleezza Rice, nominated for secretary of state, on January 18-19.
Thompson resigned on December 3. He said that the decision was not an easy one and that his job had been both challenging and rewarding. (Full story)

He said he intends to serve until February 4 or until the Senate confirms his successor.

"I am proud of the people and the work of America's department of compassion. This department really does a tremendous job. It impacts every man woman and child every single day," Thompson said.

During his tenure, Thompson has led the department through the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease; the lethal spread of anthrax-laced letters and this year's shortage of the flu vaccine.

Before becoming the Health and Human Services secretary, Thompson served as the governor of Wisconsin where he was praised in conservative circles as a pioneer in welfare-to-work programs.