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Lott to oppose Democrat's FCC nomination

Senator denies connection to Pickering defeat

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One day after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated his home state judicial nominee, Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said he will oppose an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle whom Daschle nominated to the Federal Communication Commission.

"I don't think he's qualified," Lott told reporters.

Despite the timing of his announcement, Lott insisted it has nothing to do with the defeat of Judge Charles Pickering. Lott said he decided not to support Jonathan Adelstein's nomination for FCC commissioner a few weeks ago after meeting with the 39-year-old Daschle staffer from Rapid City, South Dakota.

"He is relatively young. You have to have the education and experience to be qualified. It's important, and he doesn't have it," Lott said.

The current FCC chairman, Michael Powell, son of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, was 37 when he was appointed to that post by President Bush last year.

The White House has not formally sent Adelstein's nomination to the Senate, but a spokesman for Lott said Lott intends to put a "hold" on it, which by Senate rules would prohibit a vote.

Daschle sent Adelstein's nomination to the White House in November to fill a vacancy for one of two Democratic slots on the five-person commission.

In response, Daschle said Lott should not take his anger over the defeat of Pickering out on someone who was "not involved."

"For him to be singled out is uncalled for," said Daschle through a spokeswoman. "I think they will want cooperation for other nominations. This threat could backfire. People should cool down and think about it before they throw something."

But Lott told reporters he blamed Daschle and the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for the defeat of Pickering, his friend.

"This is a real blow. It's going to take quite a while to get over this," said Lott. "The way it was done and who it was done to was a severe blow."

Lott said by defeating Pickering, Democrats waged a personal political attack on him and his home state of Mississippi.

He warned that the Senate is going to be an unhappy place for a while.

"It is very bad. If they continue that pattern and they don't start moving these nominations, then the Senate is going to be in a very bad situation," Lott said.

He added that he is unlikely to employ two other options for keeping the fight on Pickering alive. He said he would not support a recess appointment and he is unlikely to try to move the nomination on the floor, which would require 60 votes.




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