12-17-2017  4:04 am      •     
MLK Breakfast
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Exhibit Explores the Legacy of Portland Bird Watchers

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Special Call for Stories about the Spanish Flu

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Kevin Bohn and Greg Botelho CNN

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate his picks to lead the Office of Management and Budget, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department, senior officials in the White House and Obama administration said.

Gina McCarthy, an assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, is Obama's choice to head up the agency.

In her 25-year career, McCarthy has worked at the state and local levels, including time as commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, before coming to the federal level.

If confirmed by the Senate, she'll succeed former EPA chief Lisa Jackson, who announced her plans to step down in late December.

McCarthy has also worked for Republican governors, including Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, where she once directed Romney's environmental policy.

"I did," she told CNN's Jim Acosta last March during the Republican primary. "I played a pretty good role in trying to get Gov. Romney to finally sign the Massachusetts climate change action plan."

Considering recent comments by Obama on climate change, the EPA may play larger role during his second term. The president made headlines when he made the issue a key subject in his inauguration address this year.

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said.

Along the same lines, Obama has tapped physicist Ernest Moniz to lead the Energy Department. Moniz has served on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1973, with a research focus on energy technology and policy.

Moniz also has also worked at the federal level, serving as undersecretary of the Department of Energy from 1997 to January 2001, where he focused on nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and was the secretary's special negotiator for Russian nuclear materials disposition programs. Other work includes his time as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 1995 to 1997.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, meanwhile, will be nominated to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Burwell, 47, is the head of the Walmart Foundation, the retail chain's charitable organization. The organization donated nearly $1 billion to causes worldwide in 2011, according to its website.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will assume a Cabinet-rank position as head of the White House agency that assists the president on budget matters.

While it may not have the profile of jobs such as secretary of state or secretary of defense, the OMB position is a central part of a president's administration. One example of its importance is the rise of Jack Lew, who held that job before becoming White House chief of staff and now treasury secretary.

The stakes are especially high now, with Obama engaged in a protracted, heated battle with the Republican-led House of Representatives about the size and shape of the federal government's budget.

The two sides have failed to reach an agreement to avert mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts -- to the tune of $85 billion through the next seven months of the current fiscal year -- that took effect Friday. In addition, a possible government shutdown looms at the end of this month.

Walmart CEO Mike Duke congratulated Burwell on her upcoming nomination, calling her "a strong leader who both masters the details and has a clear vision for making big things happen."

"She cares deeply about people (and) she understands business and the role that business, government and civil society must play to build a strong economy that provides opportunities and strengthens communities across the country," Duke said in a statement.

Beyond her more recent work in corporate philanthropy -- including as the chief operating officer and founding president of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through 2011 -- Burwell has experience in government.

She worked in President Bill Clinton's administration under then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, something that she has in common with Lew and Peter Orszag, another OMB chief in the Obama administration.

For parts of 1997 and 1998, Burwell was a deputy chief of staff to Clinton, according to her profile on MetLife's website, where she is a member of its board of directors. She served as deputy director of the OMB between 1998 and 2001.

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