Only Democrat in Bush Cabinet Will Resign Next Month

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in the president's cabinet, will resign on July 17. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow made the announcement at the regular press briefing Friday.

When reporters asked why Mineta was resigning now, Snow replied: "Because he wanted to ... he was not being pushed out." Mineta had suffered from serious back pain that required him to work from home and even from a hospital in the past.

Snow said Mineta's health has since improved and was not a factor in his decision. "He put in five and a half years," Snow added. "That's enough time."

Mineta entered government service in the U.S. Army. He has held appointed and elected positions at the local and federal levels including two decades in the California congressional delegation, secretary of commerce for President Clinton and his current post.

"I want to thank Secretary Mineta for his leadership and commitment to the Department of Transportation. As a Member of Congress, and the Secretary of both Commerce and Transportation, Secretary Mineta has been an extraordinary public servant for the American people," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in a statement.

"He should be especially proud of his hard work on the Highway Bill that passed last year. This bill has fueled America's economy by growing jobs and is helping to keep America's transportation system well suited for the 21st century," added Hastert.

"Secretary Mineta has been a leader for this country who has set high expectations for himself and for those around him. I wish him all the best in the future," he added.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called Mineta "a dedicated public servant," whom he's known for 25 years and "had the pleasure of serving alongside." Reid added, "He has had a long and successful term as Secretary of Transportation, and I wish him all the best in his future pursuits."

Cybercast News Services Senior Editor Melanie Hunter contributed to this report.

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