December 22, 2001 - LA Times: Bush Risks Rift With Senate Over Recess Appointments: Vasquez nomination also left in Limbo

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 12 December 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: December 22, 2001 - LA Times: Bush Risks Rift With Senate Over Recess Appointments: Vasquez nomination also left in Limbo

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, December 22, 2001 - 9:39 am: Edit Post

Bush Risks Rift With Senate Over Recess Appointments: Vasquez nomination also left in Limbo

Read and comment on this story from the LA Times that President Bush is considering recess appointment of two key nominees and that the nomination of Gaddi Vasquez as Peace Corps Director has also been left in limbo at:

Bush Risks Rift With Senate Over Recess Appointments Congress*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Bush Risks Rift With Senate Over Recess Appointments Congress:

The president, grown frustrated with the pace of confirmation hearings, could appoint controversial nominees for a year.


WASHINGTON -- Risking a further break with the Senate, President Bush on Friday weighed appointing two controversial nominees to senior administration jobs while legislators are on vacation.

The Senate's Democratic leadership has refused to schedule votes on the nominations of Otto J. Reich as assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Eugene Scalia as the Labor Department's solicitor.

Granting them recess appointments would circumvent the recalcitrant Senate and allow them to serve without Senate confirmation for about a year, until the end of the next session of Congress. The Senate's departure Thursday for a monthlong break without voting on either nominee has frustrated the White House and brought pressure on Bush from his conservative allies to try the backdoor approach.

While Reich and Scalia have drawn the most attention, Bush has been frustrated by the overall pace of Senate confirmation hearings and votes, particularly those of judicial nominees. In addition, relations have grown increasingly bitter over the Senate's failure to act on an economic stimulus measure and energy legislation.

"The president deserves to have his team in place, particularly during a time of war, and the American people deserve to have their government fully staffed, and they deserve a court system that can fully carry out justice," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Friday. "The president has done his part, and when the Senate returns, it's important that they do theirs."

Among those left in limbo is Gaddi H. Vasquez, a former Orange County supervisor nominated by Bush to head the Peace Corps.

The dispute over Reich and Scalia is the reverse image of a controversial appointment made a little more than a year ago. In August 2000, President Clinton appointed Bill Lann Lee as assistant attorney general for civil rights while the Senate was in recess. Senate Republicans, then in control of the chamber's agenda, had refused since 1997 to allow a vote on Lee's nomination, prompting sharp protests from Democrats.

Both Nominees Draw Criticism

Reich has drawn fire for running a covert program during the Reagan administration that sought to gain support for the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Scalia, a Washington labor lawyer, is opposed by unions angered by his opposition to an ergonomics regulation the Clinton administration issued to protect workers. As Labor Department solicitor, he would be charged with enforcing the nation's labor laws. His father is Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice.

"These guys are symbolic to the left--hugely--and therefore they are to the Republicans as well," said Grover G. Norquist, a conservative who is president of Americans for Tax Reform.

And so, he said, the fight is not over policy but "over who gets to be in charge." As Norquist presents it, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is blocking a vote, although a majority would confirm Scalia and Reich, he added.

William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, said that it is time for Bush "to show Daschle he's willing to play hardball."

But Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) wrote to Bush on Thursday, saying they had the quiet support of colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has not voted on Reich's nomination, to prevent it from moving ahead.

Advising Bush not to issue a recess appointment, they wrote: "To appoint an individual who does not have the support of the United States Senate for such an important post would seriously set back progress that has been made on important hemispheric issues such as counter-narcotics, terrorism, and trade.

"It is clear that the Senate will not act on his nomination," they wrote.

The back-and-forth Friday reflected a growing peevishness between the White House and Daschle over vacant positions in the administration and the judiciary. Kenneth M. Duberstein, a Republican veteran of White House and congressional politics, called it "the tit-for-tat of Washington government."

Daschle's office said in a written statement that "the 'vacancy crisis' is a creation of the Republicans who now bemoan it" and that Fleischer's criticisms were "part of an increasingly fierce and highly coordinated campaign by Republicans in Washington to attack Senate Democrats in general and Sen. Daschle in particular."

Fleischer said that the Senate had failed to act on 170 nominations, including 20 for senior foreign policy jobs.

In deciding whether to issue recess appointments, Bush would balance "senatorial prerogatives with executive branch needs," Fleischer said.

"The president has not ruled any out," he said.

Vasquez Resigned Amid Bankruptcy

The Vasquez nomination drew fire when it was announced last July. Peace Corps alumni and other supporters of the agency said Vasquez lacks sufficient administrative, humanitarian and international experience to run a $275-million agency that places 7,300 volunteers in more than 70 countries.

Vasquez rode out the initial storm, and his nomination cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 14-4 vote earlier this month.

Vasquez, a Southern California Edison executive, served on the California steering committee for Bush's presidential campaign. In 1995, he resigned from the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the midst of the bankruptcy scandal and ahead of a recall campaign and grand jury investigation that led to formal accusations of willful misconduct against two colleagues.

Vasquez also was cited in a 1996 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report that accused the supervisors and other county officials of misleading and defrauding buyers of more than $2.1 billion in municipal securities.


Times staff writer Scott Martelle in Orange County contributed to this report.

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