Obama hears from Congress on adding diversity to his cabinet

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) (3rd L) speaks as Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) (L), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) (2nd L), and Assistant House Minority Leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) (R) listen during a news conference after a walkout in protest of a vote on whether Attorney General Eric Holder was in contempt of Congress June 28, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Amid criticism that his second-term cabinet choices have so far all been white men, President Obama today received some personnel suggestions from the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, mailed Mr. Obama a letter today recommending that he nominate two CBC members to serve in his administration: She suggested that he nominate Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to serve as Commerce Secretary and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to serve as Labor Secretary.

"Congressman Watt and Congresswoman Lee are exceptionally well-qualified, proven candidates," Fudge wrote.

While not every first-term cabinet member is leaving the administration, Mr. Obama will have to pick new Labor and Commerce secretaries: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced Wednesday she is stepping down. Meanwhile, in the Commerce Department, Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank has been serving as acting secretary since Secretary John Bryson announced he was taking a medical leave of absence in June 2012.

The president's cabinet choices so far have raised some eyebrows, given that he made diversity and women's issues part of his presidential campaign so far.

"It's embarrassing as hell," Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC this morning with respect to the president's nominations. "We've been through all of this with Mitt Romney. And we were very hard on Mitt Romney with his 'women binder' and a variety of things. And I kind of think there's no excuse when it's the second term."

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