Bush to defy Senate with recess appointments
By Major Garrett
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush White House intends to sidestep the Democratically controlled Senate and place two well-known conservatives in high-profile posts at the Labor and State Departments during the congressional recess, two senior administration officials told CNN on Friday.
President Bush has made no final decisions, but administration officials have said he may use recess appointments to place Otto Reich in the post of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and Eugene Scalia as Labor Department solicitor.
A recess appointment is a constitutional feature designed to resolve an impasse between the White House and Senate. Recess appointees can remain in their posts until the term of Congress expires.
Senior officials said Bush is due to receive a final memorandum recommending Reich, Scalia and other potential recess appointments after Christmas. A White House announcement on the appointments will come on or after January 3, officials said.
Senior officials say the White House has grown weary of what it perceives as Senate obstructionism to the Reich and Scalia appointments. The president will also use his recess appointment powers to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Scalia is the son of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Democrats say they oppose the younger Scalia because of his position on work-related injuries and other labor matters. The White House has long argued that Scalia, nominated on April 30, has enough votes to win Senate confirmation.
Reich, nominated July 12, has yet to receive a hearing from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The White House contends it has the votes to approve Reich on the Foreign Relations Committee and from the full Senate. Democrats dispute that.
Liberal Democrats say Reich is too conservative for the region, and some cite his support of Reagan-era policies in Central America, which included support for the Nicaraguan contras and backing governments in El Salvador and Honduras. Reich is also considered hawkish on relations with Cuba.
Twenty members of the Bush foreign policy team remain unconfirmed by the Senate. Among those awaiting confirmation are State Department officials dealing with global refugee programs, global humanitarian relief, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the ambassadorial nominees to the Philippines, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, and Norway.
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