President-elect George Bush told top Senate Republicans Tuesday he would seek bipartisan support for quick confirmation of his Cabinet so his full team could be in place soon after he takes office.
The vice president also reiterated a promise to work with both Democrats and Republicans in forging a budget agreement, perhaps even before his inauguration.Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., commenting after the GOP senators met privately with Bush, said the president-elect indicated he wanted to meet with "a bipartisan group to discuss his thoughts" before submitting a budget outline of his own.
Informal talks on the budget between Bush and key members of Congress are likely to begin well in advance of Bush's Jan. 20 inauguration, according to senators at the breakfast meeting.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said one suggestion made at the meeting - and quickly endorsed by Bush - was to try to persuade Democrats to speed up the confirmation process on Bush's Cabinet choices.
Cochran said he expected Bush to telephone the new Senate Democratic leader, Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, later Tuesday and that the subject of quick confirmation hearings might come up.
"The Congress does come into session on Jan. 3. We could do some work between then and the inauguration," Cochran said.
He said that Bush indicated he would like the Senate to "expedite the hearings and consideration of those nominees to those Cabinet positions so that when the president is inaugurated, they started to work right away, with the Cabinet in place."
Earlier, Bush said he was in a "listening mode" in his first trip to Capitol Hill since his election. He said "I'm getting the message" rather than carrying advice.
Former rival Bob Dole, the Senate minority leader, declared "we're ready to go to work" as he and Bush began a breakfast session also attended by Vice President-elect Dan Quayle and seven senior GOP senators.
On another subject, Bush was asked if he supported moves to hold a special meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva.
"There should be a U.N. meeting and there will be a U.N. meeting on that subject," Bush said. He did not elaborate his remarks. The Reagan administration has said it is neutral on the subject of whether such a meeting should be held in Geneva to give Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a forum to plead the Palestinian cause.