White House, Congress Prepare for Change
LYNN NEARY, Host:
That election's over now, of course. Democrats will control both houses of Congress, and that may mean changes coming at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year. Joining us now from the White House is NPR's Don Gonyea. Hi, Don.
DON GONYEA: Hi, Lynn.
NEARY: And to talk about Congress, NPR's Brian Naylor. Good to have you with us, Brian.
BRIAN NAYLOR: Hi, Lynn.
NEARY: So just how much does the president really want to work with the Democrats?
GONYEA: And you mentioned the wiretap, the domestic spying issue. That has also been deeply divisive, and here it is being pushed hard by the White House in the days after the election. There seems to be an effort to get what the president can get through the lame duck session of Congress while the Republicans still have their hands on the levers of power, you know, for another month or so.
NEARY: And Brian, what about the current Congress? How well are these kinds of things going to be received on the Hill at this time. I mean can the Republicans push any of this through before they lose their majorities?
NAYLOR: The wiretap legislation has been stalled in the Senate all along. And though Democrats are still in the minority, they've certainly been emboldened by the election and they can still block it, because it'll take 60 votes to move it, and those votes just aren't there now. So I think Mr. Bush was a little unrealistic maybe in what he expects to get done in this lame duck.
NEARY: The new Congress begins in January. How are things going to change?
NAYLOR: And he's likely to look into the issue of contracting and some would say the bungled rebuilding of Iraq. There will surely be hearings into Iraq policy by the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden of Delaware, and the military aspects of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Carl Levin takes over at the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he's likely to be aggressive in his oversight of the administration.
NEARY: Don, one way the administration seems to be dealing with all of this is to bring back some of the people who served with President Bush's father 15 years ago.
GONYEA: So a president, this president, who seemed intent on not being like his one-term father in the White House is sure looking to a lot of those old hands that were so important to his father.
NEARY: We haven't seen much of Vice President Cheney this past week.
GONYEA: He sat quietly on the couch in the meetings this week with Senator Harry Reid and with Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi. But recall too that he also worked for the first President Bush as defense secretary. We're going to have to watch to see if there are any signs of his influence diminishing.
NEARY: And where's Karl Rove?
GONYEA: Karl Rove has been present but not very vocal. He was the one who had to make not one but two very difficult phone calls to the president this week, telling him first that the House was lost to the Democrats and then that the Senate was lost. It'll be interesting to see how he kind of rehabilitates his image as the genius political advisor.
NEARY: NPR's Don Gonyea and Brian Naylor. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
GONYEA: A pleasure.
NAYLOR: Thanks, Lynn.
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