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Bush makes two recess appointments

By John King
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Using recess appointments, President Bush on Friday named Eugene Scalia as solicitor general of the Labor Department, and Otto Reich as the State Department's top diplomat for the Western Hemisphere.

Both nominations have been stalled in the Senate because of Democratic objections, and the president's use of his recess appointment authority is certain to result in a clash with congressional Democrats.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, criticized the president's move, saying he believed Scalia was not the right person for the job.

"His record and experience do not reflect a commitment to the rights of America's workers," Kennedy said in a statement.

The appointments put Scalia and Reich in their jobs until Congress adjourns for the year. The White House will urge the Senate to take up the nominations in the meantime, senior administration officials said.

Scalia will be the Labor Department's top legal adviser. He is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Reich was tabbed to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric Affairs. He previously worked in the Reagan administration's State Department Office of Public Diplomacy, which was accused of running an illegal, covert "propaganda" campaign to support the administration's backing of Nicaragua's Contra rebels.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, has also criticized Reich's ties to conservative critics of the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro.

Reich served as ambassador to Venezuela from 1986 to 1989.

Dodd expressed his "regret" over the administration's move to use a recess appointment for Reich.

"There are many difficulties in the region, and it is unfortunate that U.S. foreign policy in the region is being sacrificed for a narrow domestic political agenda," Dodd said in a statement.

The president has the authority to use a recess appointment to fill executive branch positions at times the Congress is not in session.

"The Senate's failure to act on these nominations leaves the president no option but to exercise his constitutional right to appoint them," a senior administration official said. Both will begin work within days, the official added.




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