- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

President Bush said yesterday he will resurrect failed judicial nominees and exhort the lame-duck session of Congress to create a Department of Homeland Security now that Republicans have taken control of the Senate.

"Now that the voters have spoken, I urge the members of both political parties to come together to get things done for the American people," Mr. Bush said at a press conference. "The single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill is to create a unified Department of Homeland Security."

The president said he wants the legislation creating the department to be passed by the lame-duck session of Congress that is scheduled to convene on Tuesday.

"It's imperative that the Congress send me a bill that I can sign before the 107th Congress ends," he said. "I look forward to working with the current Congress to finish some very important work.

"Secondly, they need to get a budget done," Mr. Bush added. "They've got to get the terrorism-insurance bill done. Given the amount of time they're likely to be here, that's a pretty big agenda."

Any legislation that is not completed by the lame-duck session of Congress will be presented to the new 108th Congress, Mr. Bush said. One of his top priorities is to push through judicial nominations that had been blocked by Senate Democrats.

Chief among these are Priscilla Owens and Charles W. Pickering Sr., whose nominations were not allowed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a floor vote by the full Senate. Now that Republicans control the committee, Mr. Bush called for a resurrection of the nominations.

"I hope the Judiciary Committee will let their names out and they get a fair hearing," he said. "Their names were never let to the floor for a vote.

"By the way, if they had been let to the floor for a vote, we believe they would have won the vote," the president added. "And perhaps the reason that's why they were never let to the floor for a vote."

Mr. Bush also sought to assure Americans that just because Republicans have taken control of Congress, he will not pursue a conservative agenda that is overly strident. When a reporter asked whether he would be taking "cues from the conservative arm of your party," the president challenged the premise of the question.

"I don't take cues from anybody. I just do what I think is right," he said. "And what's right is to work to stimulate the economy.

"I strongly believe that tax relief was the right thing to do," he added. "If people are really interested in job creation, they ought to join me in my call to make the tax cuts permanent."

Other components of the president's economic agenda include terrorism insurance.

"One immediate thing Congress could do to help people put back to work is to pass legislation so that construction projects can get insurance against terrorism," he said. "This will spur construction and create thousands of good hard-hat jobs that are currently on hold because projects without insurance cannot be built."

The president also wants his energy bill passed because, he said, it would create thousands of new jobs for union workers in such places as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, where Mr. Bush wants to permit drilling for oil and gas.

Mr. Bush said he will also push for a Medicare prescription-drug benefit for senior citizens. In order to encourage Democratic support for such proposals, the president talked yesterday with outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, along with Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, who announced he will not seek another term as House minority leader.

"I've talked to leaders of both parties and assured them I want to work with them," Mr. Bush said. "I talked to Senator Daschle yesterday, and said that, although the Republican Party now leads the Senate, I still want to work with him to get things done for the American people."

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