- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2000

Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney met with Senate Republicans yesterday to discuss the transition and the first days of the new administration of George W. Bush.

"We're moving forward on the transition. Things are going well," Mr. Cheney told reporters upon leaving the Capitol.

Coming a day after the announcement of the Supreme Court decision that effectively ended the election impasse in Mr. Bush's favor, the meeting between Mr. Cheney and nearly three dozen Republican senators was held to determine how Mr. Bush can best govern a divided nation.

"The transition team … will have to go into overtime," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said yesterday.

"I think they're going to have to be prepared to get through the transitioning very quick, and get into governing very soon," Mr. Lott said.

The meeting ended Mr. Cheney's three-hour circuitous path through the Capitol yesterday. He stopped to speak to incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, dropped by to see House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, met with House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Christopher Cox of California, then talked for nearly 45 minutes with a group of five centrist Republican senators.

The theme of the day was bipartisanship, with no one mentioning publicly the idea of using Republican control of the legislative and executive branch to move sweeping sections of the GOP's platform.

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine was one of five centrist Republicans to meet with the vice president-elect. She said Mr. Cheney hopes to resume bipartisan leadership meetings and to include Democrats in the administration.

"They recognize how significant it will be for them to reach out and to work in a cooperative way across party lines," she said.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, agreed. "It's obvious with the 50-50 split in the Senate and the close margin in the House, that we're going to have to reach across the aisle."

While Mr. Cheney did not meet with any Democrats yesterday, Mr. Lott said once the election result is made official, Mr. Cheney plans to return to meet with Democratic and Republicans leaders from both chambers.

Mr. Hastert said in a statement, "Now, as a nation, we must come together." He added, "The best way to heal the wounds of partisanship is to get to work on the people's agenda."

Mr. Cox said Mr. Cheney "stress[ed] that President Bush will want to follow through on the four main themes of his campaign: national security, Social Security, education and taxes." Mr. Cox added that there is "Democratic and Republican and independent common ground" on those issues.

"There are a long list of things that have two-thirds support in the House and Senate … that are 'shelf-ready' that I think will take up several months if not the first half-year or more of the next administration," Mr. Cox said.

As for using Republican control of the House, Senate and White House to force through controversial legislation, Mr. Cox said, "I don't think the next four years are going to be any different than [the years] that preceded … If an issue is hopelessly controversial then that issue is going to have trouble making it through the legislative process."

Mr. Grassley said, "It's going to make [Mr. Bush's] presidency more credible if his performance in office is commensurate with the rhetoric of the campaign."

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