Secretary Elaine Chao


Vatican Envoy to Head Veterans Affairs

President Bush all but completed his cabinet reorganization on Wednesday, appointing a former head of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and announcing that four other department heads will stay on.

The announcement, coming a day after Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was asked to remain in office, means that Mr. Bush is replacing nine cabinet secretaries, the greatest number in recent times. President Richard M. Nixon replaced eight members of his cabinet when he entered his second term, though the cabinet was smaller. Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each replaced seven members of their cabinets.

In recent weeks, administration officials have made clear that Mr. Bush wanted to have much of his cabinet in place by Inauguration Day, allowing him to move on what he has described as an ambitious domestic agenda of overhauling Social Security and the tax system. The process has been so carefully coordinated that only two cabinet posts - the secretaries of energy and health and human services - have been left open after the resignation of current cabinet members. In each of the other cases, the announcement of a resignation one day has been immediately followed by the naming of a successor.

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