Dec. 21, 2014

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Resigns

Commerce Secretary John Bryson has resigned after taking medical leave following an incident in which he crashed his car multiple times while on a trip to California.

Bryson sent his resignation letter to President Barack Obama, who now has a rare hole to fill in what has been one of the most stable Cabinets in decades. Obama will meet in the Oval Office with Bryson this afternoon.

Whoever gets nominated for the post could potentially face a somewhat thankless job. Confirmation wouldn’t be guaranteed — Republicans blocked Bryson for months over a trade dispute with the White House. And if Obama is defeated, the new secretary would last only a few months. Obama also has proposed to radically restructure the department, taking away some of its biggest components and merging it with other business-focused agencies. But those plans, like the bulk of the president’s agenda, are going nowhere in Congress.

In a statement, Obama said he accepted Bryson’s resignation Wednesday night but indicated he will serve on the president’s Export Council. “I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best,” Obama said. “As Secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation’s businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad. ... I am grateful that he brought that invaluable experience and expertise to my administration, and am pleased that he has agreed to continue supporting our efforts to strengthen the economy and create good jobs by serving as a member of my Export Council going forward.”

Obama also expressed confidence that Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank will be able to continue the work of the department going forward.

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