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Kelly Wallace: Bush now gets down to business

Kelly Wallace
Kelly Wallace  

CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace reports on President George W. Bush's legislative agenda and plans in the coming days, weeks and months.

Q: What is the Bush team saying are some of the immediate priorities of the new administration?

WALLACE: Bush plans to hit the ground running and get to work immediately. He and his aides have said lawyers have been reviewing all of President Clinton's executive orders to see which, if any, they may reverse or change.

Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, has told reporters we could learn of one or more executive actions that could be reversed soon after Bush enters the White House. So, we will be looking for Bush and his team to be taking a close look at Mr. Clinton's actions, especially those over the past several weeks.

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At the same time, Bush is anxious to press his legislative agenda. His team has already said President Bush will unveil his education reform proposal next week and that it will be sent up to Capitol Hill.

Aides are not revealing specific details of the plan, but the proposals are expected to include things such as giving states more flexibility over how to spend federal education dollars, holding schools more accountable by testing students for reading and math skills more regularly.

The proposals also are likely to include vouchers, which most Democrats oppose. Vouchers are subsidies to low-income parents that would let them take their children out of schools that may be failing and place them in private or parochial schools.

Q: Does the Bush team plan to make concessions to his legislative agenda?

WALLACE: What is interesting is that aides say Bush will press the agenda he ran on: Education reform, his $1.3 trillion tax-cut package, a pay increase for the military and a prescription drug package for low-income seniors.

They say they will press that agenda and make concessions later.

Republican sources say you don't bargain at the beginning. You put forward your agenda and then determine when compromises need to be made. So, we expect to see Bush start off with education and then move quickly in getting Congress the rest of his legislative agenda.

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Q: How important are these first 100 days?

WALLACE: Typically, most observers judge a new administration's success on the first 100 days. The Bush team is already saying it thinks 180 days is the proper measure to judge how much has been accomplished when it comes to working with Congress.

So, they are already setting the bar a little bit longer. But I think you'll see the Bush team trying to get legislation up to Capitol Hill as quickly as possible on education, tax cuts, beefing up the military, prescription drug coverage and giving more opportunities to faith-based organizations.

Q: How significant is this day for the Bush family now that eight years have passed since George W. Bush saw his father hand over the White House to Bill Clinton?

WALLACE: It's certainly a sentimental and emotional day for the Bush family. It's also a rather extraordinary political moment in that eight years ago, it was the elder President Bush who was welcoming then-President-elect Bill Clinton to the White House and then watched Clinton get sworn in and take the oath of office.

There has definitely been bitterness, at least on the part of the Bushes, who were very upset the governor of Arkansas was able to defeat President Bush.

Now, former President Bush and the former first lady, Barbara Bush, got to watch their son, George W. Bush, take the oath of office. This is only the second time in the nation's history that a son of a president has been sworn into office.

At the same time, it's also an interesting moment because Al Gore watched the man who actually had fewer popular votes in the national election get sworn in as the new president of the United States.

Q: What's next for Gore?

WALLACE: Gore has been in the process of moving into a family home in Arlington, Virginia. He, like President Clinton, will have to get used to living life as a normal citizen and will no longer have the luxuries of Air Force travel and a motorcade taking you wherever you go. The understanding is that Gore will be hitting the speaker circuit, going out and giving speeches. He will also take some time off and assess his future plans.


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Saturday, January 20, 2001

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