US president-elect Donald Trump made two cabinet selections yesterday, choosing fierce Obamacare critic Tom Price to lead the department of health and human services, and Elaine Chao, who served in the cabinet of George W Bush, as secretary of transport.
Mr Trump announced his choice of Mr Price, while the selection of Ms Chao, the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, was revealed byother sources.
Mr Price is “exceptionally qualified” to lead an effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law, Mr Trump said. The president-elect’s transition team did not immediately respond to questions about the congressman’s past commitment to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system, a position at odds with Mr Trump’s repeated campaign promises not to cut the popular health care programme that serves an estimated 57 million people.
The president-elect appeared to still be torn over his choice for secretary of state. He summoned Mitt Romney to New York for dinner last night to discuss the post for a second time. He was also meeting Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, who is getting new attention from Mr Trump’s team. On Monday, Mr Trump spent an hour with retired general David Petraeus, another contender.
Mr Trump’s decision to consider Mr Romney for the powerful cabinet post has sparked a public backlash from some of his closest aides and allies. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has warned that it would be a “betrayal” to Trump supporters if he selected Mr Romney, who was a severe critic of the president-elect during the campaign.
Even as he weighed crucial cabinet decisions, Mr Trump appeared distracted by outside issues. He took to Twitter early yesterday to declare that “nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag”.
He warned that those who do should face “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”