Cheney says Cabinet appointments coming soon

McLEAN, Va. - Vice President-elect Dick Cheney met with Michigan Gov. John Engler at transition headquarters Friday. Engler has said he is helping Cheney search for possible appointees for the administration. He's also considered a potential Cabinet member himself.

Senior aides declined to say whether Engler met with Cheney to discuss a job, but Engler said afterward that he is not looking for an appointment.

Aides said various people will be visiting Cheney to discuss administration appointments or provide suggestions and advice on policy or personnel issues in the new GOP administration.

Cheney, who is overseeing the transition for President-elect Bush, also had a conference call planned later in the day with Bush, Clay Johnson, executive director of the transition, and Andrew Card, who is expected to be Bush's White House chief of staff. The subject was Cabinet appointments and White House staff jobs.

Bush is expected to begin making staff and Cabinet announcements as early as Saturday, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, about two hours north of Austin.

Cheney was expected to remain in Washington on Friday night and aides declined to say whether he would join Bush in Texas over the weekend. But they said Cheney would probably meet up with Bush when there are job announcements to be made.

Engler was sometimes mentioned as a potential Bush running mate. He was head of Bush's campaign in Michigan, which the Texas governor lost during the primaries and the general election.

He found himself on the opposite side of the school voucher issue during the campaign - Bush favors voucher-like payments to parents of children in failing schools; Engler opposed a state referendum on vouchers.

With keys to a new office and $5.3 million in taxpayer transition money, Cheney said Thursday that the administration will begin filling Cabinet jobs ''as rapidly as we can.''

''We are going to do everything we can to get everyone named as quickly as possible,'' he said after being handed the electronic card that opens a 90,000-square-foot, government-supplied transition office near the White House. It had been off-limits during the election dispute.

But as nice as it was to finally get access to the federal transition office, Cheney still plans to work at a temporary Bush-Cheney transition office set up Nov. 30 with private funds.

That office is just minutes from his home. ''It's a great commute,'' Cheney said with a smile, ''and I want to take advantage of that.''

Working with just half the time available to most administrations, Cheney said naming the entire Cabinet before the holidays might be tough.

''I don't want to establish an artificial deadline and say that it's all going to be done a week from Friday,'' Cheney said. ''If we make it, that would be fantastic, but I don't want to set out an artificial deadline.''

A more realistic plan, he said, is to name the Cabinet quickly and forward their security clearances to Congress in time for lawmakers to begin holding confirmation hearings in January and be ready to start voting on them after the inauguration.

The FBI plans to expedite security checks for Cabinet members, Johnson said.

The McLean, Va., transition office has received more than 21,000 resumes for 6,000 jobs; most were sent electronically to the transition's Web site, aides said.

The Bush-Cheney transition foundation has raised nearly $3 million in private money and spent nearly $500,000 so far, most of it for the temporary office.

The General Services Administration, a government agency in charge of federal property and equipment, is considering whether the Bush team may use some of its taxpayer money for transition expenses already incurred.

Seventy-five full-time transition staffers are working on policy proposals, fielding job applications and otherwise preparing for the new administration. Cheney said some will move to the downtown office, which is designed for a staff of 540.

''Welcome to the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Team!'' says a sign posted near an elevator. ''Finally!'' says another.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment