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Won’t Raid Congress for Cabinet--Bush : Says He Doesn’t Want to Further Weaken GOP Vote in Either House

From Times Wire Services

President-elect George Bush won’t name any members of Congress to his Cabinet because he doesn’t want to weaken his party in the House or Senate, both already controlled by the Democrats, Bush aides said today.

“We decided it wasn’t fair to deplete our strength in Congress,” said Bush’s chief of staff, Craig Fuller.

Transition spokeswoman Alixe Glen added, “Many of the vice president’s friends in Congress have indicated a willingness to serve in his Administration. Their appointment would mean a loss of strong supporters on Capitol Hill.”

Bush began telephoning and sending notes late Monday to members of Congress who had been under consideration for various posts, aides to Bush and several congressmen said.

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Support From Lawmakers

Transition press secretary Sheila Tate said reaction to the decision had been “universally supportive” from Republican lawmakers who might have been considered for top Administration jobs--positions that offer higher political stature than that afforded as members of the House GOP minority.

Tate said Bush telephoned House Republican leader Bob Michel of Illinois to inform him of the decision, which she said he “welcomed.”

At least seven House Republicans had been mentioned as contenders for Cabinet or agency posts, including Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) as the new, congressionally mandated “drug czar” overseeing the federal government’s anti-narcotics activities.

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Loss of Strength

Bush recognized that choosing a House Republican for a senior job could leave a seat open for Democrats. Senate vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment, but House vacancies are always filled by a special election.

None of the 45 incumbent or newly elected Senate Republicans have been mentioned for top Administration jobs.

Fuller said he expects “a couple” of appointments to the new Administration later this week, but he wouldn’t specify which offices would be filled.

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He indicated that background checks are continuing on former Sen. John Tower of Texas, the leading candidate for defense secretary, and said the timing of an announcement on Bush’s Pentagon chief was “completely up in the air.”

Coretta King Meeting

Bush, meanwhile, was meeting today with Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The private meeting is one of a series Bush has had with prominent black leaders, including former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and Benjamin Hooks of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

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Bush has yet to appoint a black to a high-level job in his Administration, although he has promised that his Cabinet will reflect the makeup of the American public.

Bush also was scheduled today to talk with Carlos Andres Perez, the president-elect of Venezuela. Perez is the sixth foreign leader--the third from Latin America--whom Bush has entertained since the election Nov. 8.


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