- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Labor Department Solicitor Eugene Scalia is resigning to return to private practice, despite his renomination to the post by President Bush.

"He made a great contribution to his country," Elaine L. Chao, labor secretary, said after watching her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, being sworn in yesterday at the Capitol.

Mr. Scalia was given the principal legal office post through a recess appointment in January 2001 and named acting solicitor after the appointment expired in November.

"He has done an outstanding job, and the president appreciates his service," said White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee.

Mr. Scalia will depart Jan. 17 and is to be replaced by Howard Radzely, deputy solicitor.

"We have some notable accomplishments, including the department's assistance in resolving the labor dispute on the West Coast ports, steps taken to improve the department's enforcement and regulatory programs, and internal changes that I hope will be of lasting value," Mr. Scalia said in a statement.

"I have concluded, however, that now is an appropriate time for me to leave the Department and take on other challenges," Mr. Scalia said.

Senate Republicans said that they were disappointed, but that the Senate confirmation process had not been fair to Mr. Scalia.

"When we had to install him the way we did, there was an expectation his tenure would be brief," said Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Republican Conference.

"He got there the tough way and felt it was time to go. I'm disappointed he is leaving; he has such an incredible mind," Mr. Santorum said.

Mr. Scalia's nomination was approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee. Republicans were able to enlist enough Democrat votes to win a floor vote on his confirmation, but it was blocked by then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who threatened a filibuster that would require 60 votes to break.

The White House called for a fair vote and, when it was refused, made the recess appointment. Republicans supported the move, saying it was the only option the president had for dealing with a pitched partisan confirmation.

"The Senate has failed to exercise its role to advise and consent," White House spokeswoman Ann Womack said at the time.

"The president was left with no other option but to exercise his constitutional right to appoint them during the recess," she said.

Mr. Bush has made more than a dozen recess appointments while the Democrats controlled the Senate in the last congressional session.

Republicans believe that Mr. Scalia was being punished and would continue to be punished in the confirmation process for his father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the Bush v. Gore case ending the Florida recount wars.

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