The Senate is moving quickly on the nomination of Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo., as defense secretary, with hearings on President Bush's replacement for John Tower to begin Tuesday, it was announced Monday.
House Republican Leader Robert Michel and Sens. Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo., will formally introduce Cheney to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Pete Williams, a spokesman for Cheney.The opening of hearings was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, the committee announced.
Williams said Cheney spent this morning in briefings at the White House and was expected to go to the Pentagon later in the day.
Bush selected Cheney after the Senate rejected Tower last Thursday by a 53-47 vote. One member of the Armed Services Committee expressed hope Monday that consideration of Cheney could be wrapped up by week's end, when the Senate begins a two-week recess.
Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said on NBC's "Today" show: "The more rapidly we get through this the better. I would hope we could be done by the end of this week."
The Senate also turns this week to impeachment charges against District Judge Alcee L. Hastings of Miami, accused of plotting to obtain a $150,000 bribe and lying about it at his 1983 conspiracy trial.
The congressional agenda includes new House Ethics Committee sessions on Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, plus possible legislative action on the Eastern Airlines strike and a Senate vote on increased job protection for government "whistle-blowers" who report waste, fraud and abuse.
The 52-year-old Hastings, the first black district judge in Florida, was acquitted in the 1983 trial but now faces an effort to remove him from the bench and take away his $89,500 salary.
Hastings' attorney, Terence J. Anderson, maintains that the trial should have settled the matter and that the impeachment effort, prompted by complaints from fellow judges, represents a classic case of double jeopardy.
Anderson also claims that Hastings cannot receive a fair hearing because key witnesses have died and many senators are not planning to attend the hearings at which evidence will be presented.