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Inside Politics

Snow staying at Treasury; Principi leaving VA

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Treasury Secretary John Snow has said "yes" to President Bush's request that he remain in his post in a second Bush administration, the White House said Wednesday.

"The president is pleased that Secretary Snow decided to stay on for his second term. He is a valued member of the economic team," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

At the same time, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi has submitted his resignation letter to President Bush, a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday.

He is the ninth Cabinet secretary -- out of 15 -- to announce plans not to return for a second term. Principi's departure had been widely expected and the White House plans to announce a replacement quickly, said the official

Snow, 65, has been an aggressive supporter of Bush's economic policies even as the federal deficit ballooned to record levels. He has led the Treasury Department since February 2003.

Snow's future had been the focus of considerable speculation as Bush shook up his Cabinet following the November 2 election.

Administration sources were not eager to say Snow would stay on. Some, speaking on condition of anonymity, made clear he would likely be gone in a few months. Last week, The Washington Post quoted an unnamed official as saying Snow could stay as long as he wants -- "provided it is not very long."

One newspaper reported that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card was being considered for the post. Card told reporters Monday that he "categorically" would not be taking the job.

Bush took Snow into the Oval Office Wednesday and formally asked him to stay after a weekly lunch with his entire economic team, and Snow accepted.

"The secretary is honored to help the president implement his agenda to strengthen the economy," Snow spokesman Rob Nichols said. Snow, whose office at the Treasury Department is next door to the White House, called at least one senior staffer before leaving the building to tell him the news.

Snow took over at the Treasury Department in February 2003, replacing Paul O'Neill, who resigned in December 2002.

He helped sell Bush's most recent round of tax cuts to Congress, and defended the administration's economic policies amid growing budget deficits, a fall in the value of the dollar and slower-than-predicted job growth. The president will be relying on Snow to push major pieces of his second-term agenda, including promised overhauls of the tax code and Social Security.

Administration sources say Snow is someone who is well-liked within the White House, despite a few media gaffes during the presidential campaign. He suggested, for example, that job losses in the important and hard-hit state of Ohio were a "myth."

Snow also suggested that outsourcing jobs, a hot-button campaign trail issue, was good for the economy.

Principi's resignation

In his resignation letter to President Bush, Principi said it is "time to move on" for him personally and he praised the president for giving veterans "dramatic increases to quality health care."

Bush called Principi a "tireless advocate for 25 million veterans."

In a written statement Wednesday, Bush said, "I thank Tony for serving our veterans and our country with integrity and dignity. He is a good man and a good friend."

Principi's resignation letter was dated November 16. In it, he told Bush, "I have unbounded gratitude for the confidence you displayed in entrusting me with stewardship of your commitment to the men and women who now wear, or once wore, the uniforms of America's armed forces."

He said, "I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve you and your administration."

Principi, 60, did not give a specific reason for his resignation, but said after four years of dedicated service "it is now time for me to move on to fresh opportunities and different challenges.

"I am, therefore, submitting my resignation as secretary, effective upon confirmation of a successor," he wrote.

As secretary of Veterans Affairs, Principi directed the federal government's second largest department in charge of 219,000 personnel, responsible for a nationwide system of health care services, benefits programs, and national cemeteries for America's veterans and dependents.


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