Bush picks Chao for labor

Senator's wife steps into Chavez's shoes; Boxer leads Democrats' anti-Ashcroft charge.

Published January 11, 2001 12:41PM (EST)

President-elect George W. Bush wasted no time in appointing someone to fill Linda Chavez's empty shoes. Elaine Chao, wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., once served as a deputy in the Transportation Department during Bush père's administration. She also served briefly as the director of the Peace Corps in 1991, moving to the top spot at the United Way in 1996. Currently, Chao is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
-- Alicia Montgomery [3 p.m. PST, Jan. 11, 2001]

Boxer throws a punch at Ashcroft

Senate Democrats are putting President-elect George W. Bush on notice that Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft won't get confirmed without a fight.

In a letter to Bush, California Sen. Barbara Boxer laid out the Democrats' anti-Ashcroft case, asserting that "there are solid reasons to expect that the people of this country will not be protected and served as they exercise their civil rights, human rights, consumer rights, their right to choose, their right to be free of gun violence and their right to a clean environment." She is the first Senate Democrat to go on record against the nomination.

Other Democrats, like New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, who once had nice things to say about Ashcroft, are now hedging their bets.

But Republicans are prepared to counterpunch. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has voiced confidence that every single Republican senator is ready to confirm Ashcroft. The GOP has also lined up conservative organizations and victims' rights advocates to defend Ashcroft's record.

Next up on the Bush Cabinet chopping block is would-be Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Environmentalists oppose her policy preferences, and other critics have dug up a 1996 speech that they say raises questions about her sensitivity to blacks and the disabled.

Unlike Ashcroft and Norton, Donald Rumsfeld can expect a relatively easy confirmation. A hearing on his nomination is scheduled for Thursday morning.
-- Alicia Montgomery [6 a.m. PST, Jan. 11, 2001]

By Salon Staff

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