House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) will hold a pen and pad briefing at 1:30 pm ET.
The House convenes at 2:00 pm ET. Among the first orders of business to be discussed will be "various pieces of legislation to help Katrina victims and to stabilize the region," according to one senior Republican aide. Other issues under discussion this week will include Coast Guard reauthorization, immigration, and Social Security. Members will also gear up for reconciliation bills.
The O'Connor seat:
From Peter Baker in the Washington Post, the most key handicapping we have seen: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a Bush ally, said yesterday that the president will probably name a woman or a minority to replace the nation's first female justice and offered a vigorous defense of Gonzales. 'He would be a very good nominee and one that I would be happy to support,' Cornyn said. 'I've read about these concerns from some conservatives, and I really wonder where they are getting some of these strange ideas.'"
The Wall Street Journal's Cummings and Bravin quote the hyper-aware Leonard Leo thusly: "There's no question in my mind with what's on the president's plate right now, the war and Katrina in particular, he is not going to create more uncertainty by abandoning the base on this issue."
The Wall Street Journal ed board applauds the Roberts pick on politics and substance, and gently lays down the gauntlet: "Especially with his other troubles, Mr. Bush can't afford to alienate his most loyal supporters in the hope of buying a confirmation truce."
"White House officials signaled that there would not be an announcement this week and that they saw no real possibility of having a nominee for that seat confirmed by the start of the new term," writes Richard Stevenson of the New York Times. LINK
Stevenson also writes, "A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of personnel issues, said Mr. Bush's decision on the next nominee would not be swayed by the politics of the moment. But the official made a point of saying that Mr. Bush was considering candidates 'from all walks of life,' signaling that the administration was sensitive to the pressure to nominate a woman or a member of a minority to replace Justice O'Connor."
"Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who's close to the White House, predicted Bush will tap a woman or a minority for O'Connor's seat," reports the New York Post's Deborah Orin. LINK
With conservatives and liberals agreeing that Roberts is on track to be confirmed, the focus was "already shifting to what both sides believe will be the real battle: Bush's yet-to-be-named pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor," the Washington Post's Jo Becker reports. LINK
USA Today's Mark Memmott tries again to give the press what it wants, without really explaining why a battle will happen this time: "Now that there are two Supreme Court seats to fill, a relatively quiet debate among interest groups is expected to become the more bitter, multimillion-dollar slugfest opposing sides have long anticipated." LINK
The Los Angeles Times Savage and Weinstein in their daily story say that Gonzales and Clement are O'Connor moderates: LINK
They also do the thing we find most troubling, quoting a legal expert as if he is a political expert (Note to our print colleagues: please stop doing this):