Obama nominates Pritzker for commerce secretary, Froman as trade rep

Rachel Rose Hartman
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President Barack Obama on Thursday morning nominated wealthy Chicago fundraiser and longtime supporter Penny Pritzker as the next commerce secretary and Michael Froman, his national security adviser for international economics, to the post of U.S. trade representative.

Pritzker and Froman were believed to be in line for those jobs. Both require Senate confirmation.

Pritzker, CEO of of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group, and an heir to Hyatt Hotels Corp., has a current net worth estimated by Forbes to be $1.85 billion.

Obama praised Pritzker's experience building "companies from the ground up" in her 25 years in the real estate and hospitality businesses. The announcement came on Pritzker's birthday, and the president joked, "For your birthday present, you get to go through confirmation. It's going to be great."

Pritzker was Obama's finance chair when he first ran for president, and served as finance co-chair in his re-election campaign. She has had a rocky relationship with labor unions in her hometown of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Obama urged Congress to quickly confirm both Pritzker and Froman, a former law school classmate of the president's. "I intend to work them to the bone as soon as they're official," he said.

The president announced the appointments Thursday at 10:15 a.m., before his planned departure for Mexico. The president is also scheduled to travel to Costa Rica.