The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2002

Press Briefing Excerpt by Ari Fleischer 07/31/02

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"And finally, also in the Senate, I indicated yesterday that Senator Daschle had made a commitment as far as the confirmation of many of the remaining positions that have not yet been confirmed which are ready for Senate floor action. It appears now that some senators may be raising objections and placing holds to Senate action on many of these conferees.

There are 60 nominees who are waiting for a vote. If the Senate does not act, many critical positions will remain vacant. These include the Deputy Secretary of Energy, Deputy Director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Deputy Administrator of NASA, the Deputy Director for Management in the Office of Management and Budget, 29 foreign policy nominees which include critical positions like Assistant Secretary for Arms Control for Verification and Compliance, and, of course, the judicial nominee, as well.

The President believes in the commitment he got from Senator Daschle and the President will be looking to the Senate to honor that commitment this week."

Q Does the President plan any additional efforts to salvage -- to try to salvage Pricilla Owen's nomination, now that it's been postponed?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the postponement actually allows the President to have more time and allows the administration to have more time to talk to some of the senators whose votes may be reachable. So the President hopes that this will allow for her confirmation. He's dedicated to it. He thinks she's an outstanding jurist and he hopes the Senate will act in a bipartisan way and not a partisan way.

This is another interesting case where the rules in the Senate just keep seeming to change, depending on what will stop legislation or people from moving forward. For instance, when it came to Medicare, the Finance Committee could have put together a bipartisan package, but the Senate leadership made a decision not to allow bipartisanship to take place in committee, so they pulled the bill out of committee and put it on the floor where, obviously, it didn't go anywhere.

Energy legislation met the same fate. A bipartisan energy plan could have been put together in the Senate Energy Committee. Senate leadership decided to kill it by pulling it from the committee and then they put it on the floor and a very different version of the bill passed.

When it comes to judicial nominations, the Senate leadership does just the opposite tact and they're content to bottle it up in committee in an attempt to kill it in committee. The one consistent action seems to be to thwart the bipartisan will of the Senate.

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