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His nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on January 20, 2009. Vilsack's departure left no members of Obama's Cabinet who were serving when Obama took office.
Until his January 13, 2017 resignation one week prior to the end of Obama's second term as president, he had been the only current member of the U. On July 19, 2016, the Washington Post reported that Vilsack was on Hillary Clinton's two-person shortlist to be her running mate for that year's presidential election.
In his announcement speech, he said "America's a great country, and now I have the opportunity to begin the process, the legal process of filing papers to run for President of the United States." Vilsack dropped out of the race on February 23, 2007 citing monetary constraints.
On January 27, 2007, Vilsack called into the Regular Guys Show hosted by Kurt Hurner to conduct a 15‑minute interview on his running for the Democratic nomination for 2008.
Following the November 2, 2004, elections, the fifty-member Senate was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans and Republicans held a 51–49 majority in the House of Representatives.
In July 2005, Vilsack signed an executive order allowing all felons who had served their sentences to vote.
Following his election, he worked on legislation requiring companies who received state tax incentives to provide better pay and benefits.
He said: "When you've paid your debt to society, you need to be reconnected and re-engaged to society".
Previously, convicted felons were disenfranchised, but could petition the governor to initiate a process, normally requiring six months, to restore their right to vote. City of New London in June 2005, Vilsack vetoed a bill to restrict Iowa's use of eminent domain, citing its potential for negative impact on job creation.
He helped pass a law for workers to receive health coverage when changing jobs, and helped re-design Iowa's Workforce Development Department.
He also wrote a bill to have the State of Iowa assume a 50% share of local county mental health costs.