President Obama on Thursday nominated long-time campaign contributor and Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker to be secretary of commerce and Michael Froman to lead the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Froman is currently the deputy national security adviser for international affairs. He played a key role in negotiations on free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. He takes over from Ron Kirk, who recently resigned, and has represented the United States at global forums such as the G8 and G20.
In a Rose Garden address, Obama said Froman has "won a reputation as being an extraordinarily tough negotiator" who "does not rest until he's delivered the best possible deal for American businesses and American workers."
He will have a full agenda trying to conclude trade deals with the European Union and a dozen transpacific nations.
Pritzker, nominated on her birthday, has owned companies in the real estate, finance and hospitality industries. She is a member of the White House's Jobs Council.
The Commerce Department is currently headed by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank.
Both nominees must be confirmed by the Senate. - Eric Kulisch