Lott's 'soft landing?'

Posted: Dec 21, 2002 12:00 AM
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 committee. 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 submitted again. 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 Mexican trucks. 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 Snow. 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.