George W. Bush received his first daily national security briefing from the Clinton administration yesterday while Senate Republicans urged his running mate, Richard B. Cheney, to reverse Clinton-era executive orders.
“It’s going to be important to show … the American people that this administration will be ready to seize the moment,” Mr. Bush told reporters during another busy day of transition planning in Austin.
A CIA official met with Mr. Bush at the governor’s mansion in Texas and gave him the same intelligence briefing that Vice President Al Gore receives daily.
The Bush team had sought the reports for at least two weeks, arguing that Mr. Bush needs the information to conduct a responsible transition.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Mr. Cheney gave congressional Republicans their first taste in eight years of what it will be like to work with a Republican administration.
He greeted House Republicans in the morning and ate lunch with Republican senators, who encouraged Mr. Cheney in a free-wheeling discussion to have Mr. Bush overturn a long list of executive orders signed by President Clinton.
Senators declined to be specific about which executive orders they want overturned, but one Republican said they advised Mr. Cheney to be “aggressive” about overturning Clinton administration policies. Another Senate Republican said they broached the overall topic but did not get into specific policy areas with Mr. Cheney.
Republicans have long chafed at what they view as Mr. Clinton’s excessive use of this executive power to circumvent Congress on a variety of issues, from protecting homosexuals from discrimination to declaring new national monument areas.
“The transition is up and running and operational now, and we look forward to working with members of Congress of both parties,” Mr. Cheney said after the closed House session. He pledged “a robust effort to get on with the business of dealing with the nation’s problems.”
In Austin, Mr. Bush and his designee for White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, pored over an ever-growing list of job applicants for the new administration.
Chief political adviser Karl Rove said the Bush team will probably announce more transition appointments this week but likely will postpone Cabinet nominations until the court cases are resolved.
Speculation continued yesterday about the composition of a Bush Cabinet. House Republicans said Mr. Cheney solicited their suggestions for appointments to key positions.
Privately, some members said they expected Mr. Bush to look at conservative-leaning Democrats such as former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana.
Several Bush advisers have suggested that Mr. Hamilton, who retired in 1998, would be an appropriate choice for an intelligence or foreign policy position, perhaps as director of the CIA or an official at the National Security Agency.
Other House members suggested that Mr. Bush would reach out to Rep. Charles W. Stenholm of Texas and Rep. Gary A. Condit of California, both members of the conservative “Blue Dogs” caucus of Democrats. Both men have a keen interest in agriculture issues.
For Mr. Bush, yesterday marked exactly one month since his apparent victory on Election Night, when Mr. Gore retracted his concession. But the Bush team is enjoying a new momentum now, after scoring two court victories against Mr. Gore on Monday in the contested Florida election.
“It’s been one month from today that the people actually showed up and started to vote, and here we stand here I stand, still … without a clear verdict,” said Mr. Bush. “Although I must say that I’m very encouraged by what’s been taking place. Hopefully the issue will be resolved quickly.”
Mr. Bush also taped an interview to be aired last night on CBS’ “60 Minutes II” in which he said he does not view Mr. Gore as a sore loser.
“Not at all,” Mr. Bush said in an excerpt released by the network. “I mean, listen, he and I share something: We both put our heart and soul into the campaign, and he gave it his all, and I darn sure gave it my all because I do understand what it means to have put your all into a campaign and hope that it comes out the way you want it to come out.
“I think he’s doing what he thinks is right,” said Mr. Bush.
The day in Washington began with Mr. Cheney, a former five-term representative from Wyoming, meeting House Republicans in the Longworth House Office Building.
“As a former member of the House of Representatives, I look forward to being president of the Senate,” he said to cheers and laughter.
Mr. Cheney also thanked those House Republicans who traveled to Florida to help the campaign during the monthlong recount contest. And he introduced Mr. Rove; David Gribbin III, the transition team’s liaison to Congress; and Ari Fleischer, the transition spokesman.
Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the mood in the caucus room was “ebullient, upbeat, enthusiastic, anticipatory.”
Rep. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican, said, “With Secretary Cheney addressing us, it was giving us a flavor of what it would be like with a Republican in the White House. Some of us have never been in Congress when we’ve had a Republican in the White House. So that was very upbeat.”
House and Senate Republican leaders were clearly looking forward to dealing with a Bush administration.
“I think we want to make sure that on this end of Pennsylvania Avenue, both the House and the Senate, in a bipartisan way, can come together and get the things done,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
The relationship with the White House “is going to be better than ever” under a Bush presidency, said Rep. Jack Quinn, New York Republican.
After the luncheon in the Senate, Republican senators said they were reassured by the meeting.
“His message was they feel a little bit better about things than they felt yesterday and they’re trying to handle things in a statesmanlike way,” said Sen. Tim Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican.
Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald, Illinois Republican, said Mr. Cheney expressed unhappiness that Mr. Bush had lost almost half the normal transition time, which could slow down the process of naming key officials.
Mr. Cheney suggested that Mr. Bush will concentrate on naming his top Cabinet officials and then delegate considerable authority to those nominees to name their deputies. That way, he said, Mr. Bush might avoid the slow nomination process that plagued the first Clinton administration.