- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

The White House is seriously considering recess appointments in the next two weeks for Eugene Scalia and Otto Reich, whose nominations have languished in the Senate for months, administration sources said yesterday.
"We can't wait any longer on either one of them," said one Bush official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "It's under discussion right now."
President Bush on Monday night made his first recess appointment, installing John Magaw as head of the new Transportation Security Administration. The former Secret Service director will be in charge of airport security, and his new agency is scheduled to take control of aircraft safety on Feb. 19.
While the president's action did bypass the Democrat-led Senate, Mr. Bush consulted Senate leaders of both parties. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the South Dakota Democrat did not object to the recess appointment and that one or more Republican senators had placed a "hold" on Mr. Magaw.
Mr. Bush submitted Mr. Magaw's nomination to the Senate on Dec. 13, and a White House spokeswoman said the Senate simply ran out of time to vote on Mr. Magaw's confirmation before lawmakers adjourned Dec. 20.
"We're confident that the Senate will confirm him when they return" on Jan. 23, said White House Deputy Press Secretary Claire Buchan. "But given the importance of aviation security, we wanted to ensure that he has every day that he could possibly have to get at the business of aviation security."
But a senior administration official said the president probably will make more recess appointments over the objection of Senate Democrats. In the waning days of the last session of Congress, two top Senate Democrats imposed blanket "holds" on nearly all administration nominees.
Another Bush aide confirmed that two of the most likely recess appointments are Mr. Scalia for Labor Department solicitor and Mr. Reich for assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.
"Scalia and Reich remain under serious consideration," said one administration official, who said a decision has not been made. "There are strong arguments that both have been treated unfairly."
Mr. Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was nominated in May and was approved in October by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. But Mr. Daschle has said Mr. Scalia would need 60 votes to be confirmed enough to defeat an expected Democratic filibuster.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and other Democrats have said Mr. Scalia would not be an advocate to protect workers from injuries on the job. Mr. Scalia testified that he would carry out workplace regulations fairly.
Some Republicans contend that Mr. Scalia is a victim of political payback because his father voted with the Supreme Court majority in the Florida presidential election case that sealed Mr. Bush's victory.
Mr. Reich, twice confirmed by the Senate for diplomatic posts in previous administrations, has yet to have a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.
Some Democrats oppose Mr. Reich's appointment because they are still angry over his support of anti-Marxist rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s and his advocacy of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
Daschle spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer would not comment on possible recess appointments for the two men. Mr. Daschle said on Dec. 30 that he would "discourage" recess appointments for them but such action is "a president's prerogative."
"That isn't the way it ought to be addressed," Mr. Daschle said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The constitutional responsibility of the president and the Congress is to work together on these nominees."
Recess appointments are only good for one year.
The White House also has called on Senate Democrats to approve more of its judicial nominations. The Senate last year confirmed 28 of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees, or 43 percent the lowest rate for the first year of the past four administrations.
Before Congress adjourned last month, Mr. Biden and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, placed "holds" on nearly all of the administration's nominees.
An administration source said Mr. Biden was unhappy that Congress didn't approve an Amtrak provision that the White House supports. He blocked several diplomatic nominations, including ambassador to the Philippines.
"We're still trying to get someone to explain that to us," the Bush official said.
The same source said Mr. Harkin was annoyed with the lack of progress of a farm bill in the Senate. A Harkin spokesman said his boss is not holding up nominations that are directly related to the war against terrorism.
Mr. Magaw ran into opposition from Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican. Mr. Specter criticized him for defending the actions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where the wife and son of white separatist Randy Weaver were killed in 1992.
Mr. Magaw headed ATF from 1993 to 1999. He said the agency made mistakes in the Ruby Ridge siege and that he changed its procedures as a result.
Bill Sammon, traveling with President Bush, contributed to this report.


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