- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2005

President Bush, shrugging off complaints about Republican disunity, is making the most of the Senate’s newfound comity by racing to enact his agenda before acrimony returns to Capitol Hill.

The first item on Mr. Bush’s stalled agenda to move forward since Monday’s filibuster compromise in the Senate was his nomination of Justice Priscilla Owen, who was confirmed to a federal appeals court yesterday after a four-year delay.

But even before the Senate finished voting 56-43 to confirm Justice Owen, the president was pivoting to other stalled agenda items, including his energy bill and his nomination of John R. Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush was asked whether he senses ?a new bipartisanship? that will result in the passage of more of his agenda.

“We’ll see,” he allowed. “It’s all going to be in the results. I’m a results-oriented person.”

But his spokesman, Scott McClellan, said those results are already tangible. He cited the expected confirmations of two additional judicial nominees, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

“The Senate is moving forward on nominees who have waited for years to simply receive an up-or-down vote,” said the White House press secretary. ?Now they are going to get one. That’s real progress.”

Although several other judicial nominees are expected to be filibustered as a result of the Senate compromise — which the White House did not endorse — the deal also had the effect of keeping alive Mr. Bush’s effort to reform Social Security.

“Anything that gives the Senate more time to focus on Social Security is a good thing,” presidential assistant Allan Hubbard told The Washington Times. “We want them to not lose focus on Social Security.”

The compromise, which averted a showdown that had threatened to paralyze the Senate, also cleared the way for the Bolton nomination to move forward. The full Senate began debate on the nomination yesterday and planned to vote tonight, although some Democrats threatened a delay.

Before Monday’s compromise, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, had begun to curtail Senate business in anticipation of a showdown with Republicans. Now that the showdown has been averted, the Senate is free to move forward on such issues as the president’s long-delayed energy bill.

“And so we’re working with the senators,” Mr. Bush said yesterday. “Congress has been talking too long about the energy bill. And now is the time to get it to my desk.”

Passage of the energy bill would be a major victory for the White House, which bragged yesterday of already enacting major items on the president’s second-term agenda. These include tort reform, bankruptcy reform, a budget resolution and supplemental funding for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have made significant progress in the first four months or so of this Congress,” Mr. McClellan said.

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