Lott's 'soft landing?'
12/21/2002 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak
Colleagues attempting to provide a "soft landing"
for Sen. Trent Lott, thrown out as Senate Republican leader, are running
into reluctance by colleagues to give up a committee chairmanship for Lott.
One plan discussed by senior Republican senators would bump Lott
up to the cherished post of Finance Committee chairman though he now ranks
fourth in GOP seniority on the committee. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has
made clear he has no intention of surrendering the Finance Committee for
Lott's sake. Another plan would give Lott the coveted defense subcommittee
on the Appropriations Committee, but he is not even a member of the full
Republican colleagues who privately said that Lott must go for
the sake of the party have admitted that they have no concept of his status
in the Senate after the fall.
PICKERING IN DOUBT
Senior White House officials say that President Bush plans to
renominate U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering of Mississippi to the 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans despite the fall of Sen. Trent Lott.
Nevertheless, many senators doubt they ever will have a chance to reconsider
Pickering's rejection last summer.
With the Senate under Democratic control, a straight party line
vote in the Judiciary Committee refused to send Pickering's nomination to
the Senate floor. When Republicans regained a Senate majority in the Nov. 5
elections, the White House made clear that Pickering's name would be
However, Lott's demise may change that. Lott and Pickering, a
former Republican state chairman of Mississippi, are close political allies
and longtime friends. In his Black Entertainment Television interview, Lott
did not retreat from unequivocal support of Pickering.
BUSH'S LABOR BUDDY
Rep. Charlie Norwood of Georgia and other hard-line Republican
critics of organized labor are not happy about the Labor Department's soft
treatment of the Carpenters Union under the presidency of Douglas McCarron.
He is the labor leader most ardently wooed by President Bush.
Norwood's House Workforce Protections subcommittee is concerned
by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's support of McCarron against efforts by
insurgent Carpenters members to achieve democratic rights. McCarron has been
an occasional White House guest and was lauded last month by Bush for his
"leadership" in passing the terrorism insurance bill. Nevertheless, the
Carpenters union actually increased contributions to Democratic Senate
candidates in 2002.
A footnote: Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, second only to
McCarron in courting by the White House, on Tuesday accused Bush of having
"set the stage for compromising our security" by opening the border to
CANDIDATE FOR TREASURY
Gary Edson, who as deputy national security adviser to President
Bush angered economic conservatives, is reported by Bush insiders as trying
to be named deputy secretary of the Treasury under Secretary-designate John
Assigned the area of international economic affairs, Edson has
been a leading proponent of the Bush administration taking a forward
position on global warming. He is a veteran bureaucratic infighter who held
high staff positions in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
A footnote: Supply-siders are pushing investor Lewis Lehrman,
the Republican nominee for governor of New York in 1982, for a high post at
the Treasury. He would satisfy the argument that Snow, renowned as a deficit
hawk, needs a prominent tax-cutter at the Treasury.
WHERE IS HALEY?
Delta Airlines, facing Transportation Department opposition to
badly needed help, is complaining about the absence of its high-priced
Washington lobbyist: former Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is against Delta's bid to
join a cooperative market agreement with United Airlines and Continental
Airlines. The Treasury Department has approved the deal.
Barbour, one of the capital's most influential lobbyists, is
busy these days in his home state of Mississippi preparing his 2003 campaign
for governor. Delta executives are privately complaining that their man in
Washington is AWOL.