Recess Appointment Likely For Lee
White House officials expect it as early as next week
By Eileen O'Connor/CNN
WASHINGTON (Dec. 5) -- White House officials expect a recess appointment of Bill Lann Lee to come as early as next week to the position of assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress oppose Lee's nomination, arguing the well-known supporter of affirmative action would defy recent court rulings which contend such programs violate the Constitution.
Supporters say such criticism is ludicrous and that Lee would serve to uphold the law of the land, regardless of his personal views.
A recess appointment must be made before Congress reconvenes Jan. 27.
Such an appointment would generally mean serving until the end of that session and the following year. Republicans in Congress passed a statute that effectively serves to block a portion of that time, meaning Lee would serve until the next Congress convenes in January 1999.
The decision for a recess appointment was made in a meeting last Monday between the president's counsel, Charles Ruff; Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta; Attorney General Janet Reno; and Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.
Lee had asked the White House to try to drum up the necessary support for the nomination. White House officials say that was tried, but it was difficult because it was an issue that was not affected by "horse trading." One administration source says the Justice Department was not happy with the prospect, as Lee will likely face hearings and a potential vote, a kind of "no confidence" proceeding.
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