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Obama to round out cabinet picks

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 – President-elect Barack Obama is set to round out his cabinet Friday by naming his selections for labour and trade before he heads to Hawaii for a Christmas break, the Washington Post reported.

At an early afternoon press conference in Chicago Obama is expected to name Democratic lawmaker Hilda Solis as labor secretary and former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as US trade representative, the daily said.

The Solis pick suggests Obama is following through with his campaign pledge of championing "green-collar jobs" that promote energy efficiency, the Post added.

Solis is a strong supporter of environmental issues in Congress, sitting on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Labor leaders embraced the choice, with the president of the nation’s largest organized labor union AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, commenting his organization was "thrilled" with the move.

"We’re confident that she will return to the labor department one of its core missions — to defend workers’ basic rights in our nation’s workplaces," Sweeney said, according to CNN television.

Kirk, who was Dallas’ first black mayor, will be charged with managing Obama’s trade policies, notably enforcing the environmental and labor protections under the North American Free Trade Agreement, said the Post.

Obama has won bipartisan praise for his transition team’s efforts in filling out his cabinet since his November election.

He also enjoys sky-high public ratings — 83 percent of respondents in a Marist survey Wednesday said they approve of his performance so far.

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