With agriculture pick, Trump rounds up his cabinet

Donald Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer holds a press conference the day before inauguration and accuses Democrats of delaying the confirmations of Trump's cabinet nominees.
This file photo taken on Nov 30, 2016 shows Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as he speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, after meetings with US President-elect Donald Trump.
This file photo taken on Nov 30, 2016 shows Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as he speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, after meetings with US President-elect Donald Trump.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Donald Trump announced Thursday (Jan 19) he has nominated former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue to be US secretary of agriculture, completing the president-elect's 15 cabinet selections on the eve of his inauguration.

With his inner circle finalised, Trump's incoming cabinet will feature no Hispanics, the first time since Ronald Reagan's presidency in the 1980s.

Perdue, 70, has considerable political experience, having been a state senator for a decade before serving two terms as governor of an agricultural state whose capital Atlanta is a major business hub.

He also worked as a veterinarian before becoming a small-business owner, and he is a first cousin of US Senator David Perdue.

"From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land," Trump said in a statement announcing Sonny Perdue as his pick.

The nomination of Perdue, which requires confirmation by the US Senate, is the final pick for Trump's 16-member cabinet, which includes the vice president - who was elected in November with Trump - and the heads of 15 executive departments.

Another former governor, Rick Perry of Texas, has been tapped for the cabinet post of energy secretary, while South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is Trump's pick to be ambassador to the United Nations, a position with cabinet rank.

Out of the 21 cabinet-rank positions already nominated by the president-elect, only four are women. One is black and two are Asian-American.

Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump's cabinet makeup against charges he has the largest number of white males in his cabinet in years, describing as "second to none" Trump's diversity in his overall political appointments.

"It's not just about skin color and heritage," Spicer told reporters in Washington.

"I think that what you're seeing and you're going to continue to see, not just the cabinet but the entire thing, is diversity in gender and diversity in thinking and diversity in ideology."

Spicer also said the new administration has asked over 50 individuals to remain in critical posts in order to "ensure the continuity of government." They include Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama's pointman in the fight against Islamic State extremists.

But Spicer said the new administration has taken issue with what he described as Democratic efforts to slow walk confirmation efforts of some key Trump cabinet picks.

"There's no excuse for the delay tactics and frankly the partisanship being exhibited by the Democrats," he said. "They are continuing to deploy delay tactic after delay tactic, which isn't good for the government."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he hopes to have members of Trump's national security team confirmed and in place by Inauguration Day Friday (Jan 20).