Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Despite a Senator's protest, Spellings to be confirmed

Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) has indicated that he will drop his resistance to Spellings' nomination following a conversation with her this week.

The "perceptions of wrongdoing" that outgoing Secretary Paige so regretted (not the wrongdoing itself, of course -- he is in the Bush Administration after all), came to view only after Spellings' confirmation hearing. According to the AP, the Armstrong Williams scandal was taken very seriously by the Senator.

``I made clear to Ms. Spellings that these propaganda efforts at the Department of Education must stop,'' Sen. Frank Lautenberg told The Associated Press.

``Too often the administration has misspent taxpayer funds to further President Bush's political agenda ... Ms. Spellings assured me that she takes the propaganda problem very seriously, and will meet with me'' when Congress' investigative arm finishes a report, said Lautenberg, D-N.J.

The Government Accountability Office is trying to determine whether the department violated a federal ban on propaganda.

... The maneuver that Lautenberg used allows senators to prevent a confirmation vote until they resolve an outstanding issue. Lautenberg agreed to lift his hold on the nomination after speaking with Spellings on Wednesday, according to two of the senator's aides.

That should clear the way for Senate confirmation Thursday of Spellings, Bush's domestic policy chief, as well as agriculture secretary nominee Mike Johanns.

``He was not going to let her go through without some kind of assurance,'' said Dan Katz, Lautenberg's chief counsel. ``He was very serious about it.''

The department has committed at least $1.3 million to the public relations firm Ketchum, including $240,000 that went to a business run by Williams for minority outreach.

Kudos to Lautenberg for putting Spellings on the spot, but she'll still be announced as the new Secretary tomorrow.


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