Former Congressman Gets Cabinet Post

Thursday, June 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Clinton nominated former Rep. Norman Mineta to lead the Commerce Department Thursday, making him the first Asian-American Cabinet secretary.

``He will play a crucial role in keeping our economic strategy on track,'' Clinton said in an Oval Office ceremony announcing his choice.

Mineta, who served 21 years as a Democratic congressman from California's Silicon Valley, is a senior vice president at Lockheed Martin.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mineta would succeed William Daley, who is leaving July 15 to run Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign.

Clinton said Mineta would be ``a worthy addition to the Cabinet,'' bringing a strong grasp of trade and technology issues to Commerce. Moreover, Clinton said, he ``understands the digital economy.''

Mineta is the son of an immigrant Japanese farmer who started an insurance business in San Jose.

As a young boy, Mineta and his family were taken from their home during World War II and forced to live with other Japanese-Americans in an internment camp. Clinton said Mineta came home vowing ``to work to make sure that kind of injustice could never happen again.''

After serving in the Army in Korea and Japan, he was elected to Congress in 1974 and ``he never stopped fighting for justice,'' the president said.

Mineta rose to become chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee in 1993. He lost the chairmanship after Republicans won control of the House in 1994. Mineta resigned in 1995 to join Lockheed Martin.

``I am proud to be chosen by you to be the first Asian-Pacific American to serve in any president's Cabinet,'' Mineta said. ``The substance of your actions today must never be underestimated or forgotten.''