WASHINGTON -- President Bush is bringing into the top ranks of his White House staff another official he has been unsuccessful in appointing to a federal appeals court.
Bush has chosen Claude Allen, the Department of Health and Human Services' number two official, to be his domestic policy adviser, responsible for shaping all White House proposals and decisions on domestic issues, press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday.
Bush nominated Allen to a federal appeals court, the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, in April 2003 and again a year ago, but the Senate never voted on Allen's nomination. During his confirmation hearing, Allen was questioned about his use of the word ''queer" in 1984 when he was a press aide to Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina. Allen said he did not intend it as a slur against gay people.
Bush's choice of Allen -- the former health secretary in Virginia and a lawyer in the Virginia attorney general's office -- for the judgeship also upset Maryland's two senators because the position is typically held by a Marylander.
Democrats blocked with filibusters 10 of Bush's 34 appeals court nominees, including Allen.
Another was Brett Kavanaugh, who was an associate White House counsel when Bush nominated him in July 2003 to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That court decides important government cases involving separation of powers, the role of the federal government, the responsibilities of federal officials, and the authority of federal agencies.
Before joining the White House, Kavanaugh was a top lawyer under independent counsel Kenneth Starr during his investigations of President Clinton.
As Kavanaugh's judicial nomination languished in the Senate, Bush promoted him to White House staff secretary. He oversees all paper that crosses the president's desk and is often at Bush's side.
The White House has said Bush will soon renominate Kavanaugh and others who did not get up-or-down votes on their federal appeals court nominations, but not Allen.
In other second-term White House personnel changes, Bush is elevating communications director Dan Bartlett to a more sweeping role in which he will add more policy formulation, agenda implementation, and big-picture message planning to his portfolio. Bartlett will serve as counselor, a title that was suspended when Karen Hughes left Bush's full-time employ in 2002.
Taking Bartlett's place as communications director in charge of the White House press operation will be Nicolle Devenish, who filled the same role in the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign last year, McClellan said.
The announcement leaves just two senior White House positions unfilled as Bush gets closer to his Jan. 20 inauguration. Both posts' former occupants have taken on larger duties -- former deputy chief of staff Harriet Miers is Bush's new White House counsel and deputy national security adviser Steve Hadley is becoming national security adviser.