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Obama Cabinet shuffle taking shape

WASHINGTON (AP) — The composition of President Barack Obama’s second term Cabinet became clearer Wednesday, with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis resigning and three other members of the president’s team deciding to stay on amid concerns about diversity in Obama’s inner circle.

Solis, a former California congresswoman and one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in the Cabinet, said she was departing after leading the department during the economic storms of the first term. She was the nation’s first Hispanic labor secretary.

A White House official said three Cabinet members — Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — would stay on as the second term begins. It would ensure diversity among the president’s leadership team — Holder is black, Sebelius is a woman and Shinseki is of Japanese-American descent.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel changes, said the three remaining officials were not an exhaustive list of which Cabinet members intended to stay.

Some Democratic women have raised concerns that the “big three” jobs in the Cabinet — State, Defense and Treasury — will be taken by white men. Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has been tapped as the next secretary of state; former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, was picked to run the Pentagon and White House chief of staff Jack Lew is expected to be named treasury secretary later this week.

The White House is expected to announce more members of Obama’s Cabinet in the coming weeks, giving the president a chance to present a team that reflects the diverse coalition of women, Hispanics and minorities that helped give him a second term.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said last month she is stepping down after nearly four years as the administration’s chief environmental watchdog. No replacement has been named, although several names are reportedly under consideration, including Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Jackson’s deputy, Bob Perciasepe.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, meanwhile, is expected to leave sometime after the inauguration, while Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s plans are unknown. Contenders to replace Chu include former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Gregoire.

The only current Republican in the Cabinet, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has not indicated whether he will leave the administration.

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