Lott wants hearings for Bush's 'appointees'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a move apparently aimed at furthering the notion Republican George W. Bush won the presidency, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, announced Monday he will encourage Senate committee chairmen to hold hearings on "President-elect Bush's appointees" Jan. 4, the day after new senators are sworn into office.
"Given the protracted contest to determine the presidential victor, it is critical we move expeditiously and be prepared to confirm the new cabinet on January 20 after the president has been sworn into office," Lott said in a written statement.
He said it was his intention for the Senate to meet after the inauguration to have full Senate confirmation of any nominees cleared for action by the committees.
A spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, who is Florida today making a show of support for Vice President Al Gore, called Lott's statement "premature in more ways than one. We don't have a president-elect, and we don't know who the committee chairmen will be."
Daschle has proposed "power sharing" between Democrats and Republicans given the partisan split in the Senate, but he and Lott have not yet had any discussions about how that might play out in the new Congress.
Lott's ability to make any recommendation to Republican committee chairmen, however, is in doubt because election results have apparently left the Senate evenly divided 50-50. The tie breaker in the Senate is the vice president. Gore is the incumbent vice president until Jan. 20, and his running mate, Joe Lieberman, was re-elected to the Senate from Connecticut, so he too would hold office Jan 3.
Susan Irby, a spokeswoman for the majority leader, said Lott, a strong Bush supporter, decided to put out the statement after Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified the election results Sunday night. She said she was not aware of any conversation between Bush and Lott since Sunday night.