Trump Cabinet

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

The White House says President Trump will attend a NATO meeting on May 25 in Brussels, and "looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO's role in the fight against terrorism."

The statement follows criticism of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's announced intention to visit Russia in April, but not take part in a NATO foreign ministers meeting, which is also next month.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. doesn't want to take military action against North Korea, but "all of the options are on the table" if a serious threat arises. Tillerson made his frank remarks in a visit to South Korea on Friday, a day after saying diplomatic efforts "have failed" to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Tillerson's Asia tour began in Japan and will end in China. The top American diplomat is traveling without a press contingent.

President Trump's head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.

"I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Scott Pruitt said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy, despite having once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy.

Or at least, he tried to pledge to eliminate the department — including once when he couldn't think of its name.

Perry was confirmed Thursday by the Senate in a 62-37 vote.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from any investigations into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.

"Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign," Sessions reiterated during an afternoon news conference in response to reports that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last year.

"I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in," Sessions said.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has been confirmed as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, by a 58-41 Senate vote.

Six Democrats and one Independent joined with the Republicans to approve the nomination — mostly Democrats who are up for re-election next year and represent states that voted for President Trump, NPR's Arnie Seipel reports.

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who received blowback from liberals for voting for Carson in committee, voted against his nomination today," Arnie says.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was confirmed as President Trump's secretary of Commerce on Monday night by a vote of 72 to 27 in the U.S. Senate.

Ross will divest from the private equity firm he founded, WL Ross & Co., as part of his ethics agreement upon entering government service. He will retain other financial interests but has pledged not to take any action as commerce secretary that would benefit a company in which he holds a stake.

With Secretary Betsy DeVos rolling up her sleeves at the Education Department and, at one point this week, joining Donald Trump at the White House to talk with educators and parents, Washington, D.C., is making a lot of education news these days.

For those of you struggling to keep up, the NPR Ed Team is trying something new: a weekly recap of the latest national education news.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Saturday afternoon to reflect DeVos' interview with Townhall and the subsequent response by Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency Pruitt has long criticized.

The Senate approved Pruitt on a 52-46 vote Friday afternoon, with two Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — voting for his nomination. Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted no.

Updated with announcement

President Trump has named R. Alexander Acosta as his replacement for labor secretary nominee. Trump's earlier pick, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon after losing support on both sides of the aisle.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to head the Labor Department on Wednesday as his support on Capitol Hill faltered. Facing criticism from both sides of the aisle, Puzder became the first Trump Cabinet pick whose nomination failed.

Puzder put out a statement on Wednesday:

The Senate voted to confirm Steven Mnuchin as President Trump's Treasury secretary in a 53-47 vote Monday.

Mnuchin's approval came over the objections of some Democratic senators who pointed to Mnuchin's business record running a bank that hastily foreclosed on homeowners. It also drew fire from those who say that with the appointment of Mnuchin and other former bankers to key roles close to the White House, the administration is going back on its promise to get tough on Wall Street.

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Of all President Trump's Cabinet choices, only one currently seems at serious risk of being denied confirmation by the Senate.

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary is a question mark after two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced they plan to vote against her.

If the last few years are any guide, one group that may find itself in the crosshairs of Rep. Tom Price, President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is an influential panel of medical experts.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, a group of mostly physician and academics from top universities, reviews medical practices to see whether they are supported by research and evidence.

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Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., tried to test whether President Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget believed in facts or "alternative facts" during a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

With the incoming Trump administration repeating falsehoods about the size of crowds at the president's inauguration, Merkley asked Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., to look at two side-by-side photos — taken at roughly the same time during former President Obama's inauguration in 2009 and Trump's just last week — to gauge which, in fact, was bigger.

President Trump's inner circle got one more member — CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The Senate confirmed the former Kansas congressman's nomination to the post Monday night. It came after Trump went to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Saturday to laud the spy agency and blast Democrats for delaying a vote on Pompeo's nomination. (That was the same event where the president said he was at "war" with the media and falsely claimed to have 1 million to 1.5 million people in attendance for his inauguration.)

Evan Vucci / The Associated Press

A high priority for President Donald Trump is getting his cabinet nominees approved by the U.S. Senate. Late last week, he named his one remaining choice: former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture.

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When former Texas Gov. Rick Perry faces the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for his confirmation hearing on Thursday, his first test could be whether he remembers the name of the agency he's been picked to head.

When a solar company wants to test new technology, they bring their panels to the National Renewable Energy Lab near Denver. It's a place where federal scientists can measure how powerful and long-lasting solar panels are, so consumers know what they are buying.

"A lot of times maybe people don't even know how to evaluate new technologies appropriately. And so we have a lot of insight and knowledge into the market that can help with some of those decisions," lab engineer Chris Deline explained.

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as his nominee for agriculture secretary, according to a transition official and a source close to the process.

This is the last open Cabinet position, although Trump has yet to name a Council of Economic Advisors chair, which is a Cabinet-level position.

The process of selecting an agriculture secretary turned into a marathon, as Trump interviewed many candidates.

Perdue was a favorite among major farmers' groups and leaders in the Republican establishment.

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, underscored the importance of federalism in U.S. environmental policy and regulation, and criticized the agency he's being tasked to run, at his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The Oklahoma attorney general vowed to follow the "rule of law," if confirmed, and promised to "fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers."

After Betsy DeVos' Senate confirmation hearing yesterday — all three hours and change — we know a little more about Donald Trump's pick to be the next education secretary.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, DeVos faced questions on a range of issues, from private school vouchers and charter school oversight to guns in schools.

President-elect Donald Trump's choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services defended stock transactions he made as a member of Congress as "above board," while vowing he would not pull the rug from under any American with health care as result of replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, faced the first of two hearings he'll have as the nominee for HHS secretary. Wednesday's was before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It will not vote on Price's nomination; that's up to the Senate Finance Committee.

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