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Byrd Keeps Hold on Bush’s Choice for No. 2 OMB Post

It doesn’t look like Clay Johnson, President Bush’s pick for the No. 2 post at the powerful Office of Management and Budget, is going to escape Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) clutches anytime soon.

Byrd, angered by White House plans to privatize hundreds of thousands of federal jobs, has placed a hold on Johnson’s nomination. With OMB Director Mitch Daniels scheduled to step down next month in order to return to Indiana, White House officials have grown increasingly anxious to install Johnson at the agency.

And following a May 7 tete-a-tete, there was some hope in administration circles that Byrd might relinquish his hold. But the West Virginia Democrat looks to have other plans.

In a May 14 letter to Johnson, Byrd seemed to suggest that he didn’t quite believe everything Johnson told him in their hour-long private meeting.

According to Byrd’s letter, Johnson denied in-depth knowledge of the “President’s Management Agenda,” although subsequent research indicated to Byrd that might not be the case.

Byrd found several instances where Johnson, in is his role as White House personnel director, made training in the management agenda a requirement for Bush appointees. Johnson also wrote that all federal agencies would be evaluated on their adherence to that agenda.

Byrd has repeatedly objected to a passage in the agenda’s documents that reads: “All too often Congress is a part of the government’s managerial problems.”

“I hope that you can reconcile for me how you have been actively advocating the President’s Management Agenda while disavowing any detailed knowledge of its contents,” wrote Byrd in this latest letter.

OMB officials declined to comment on the matter.

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