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White House Urges Congress to Establish Homeland Security Office - 2002-11-06

Republicans have won control of both houses of the U.S. Congress in an electoral boost for President Bush. The president is calling on congressional Republicans and Democrats to work together on establishing a Department of Homeland Security.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush was "heartened" by the historic Republican wins in this mid-term election.

With Republican leaders crediting the president's popularity and tough campaigning for much of their party's gains, Mr. Fleischer says the president believes credit goes to the candidates themselves and those who he says focused on changing Washington's partisan tone.

The president will not make any public appearances Wednesday because he has chosen to mark the victory with what Mr. Fleischer called "a touch of graciousness" and allow voters time to digest the results and what they mean for a new Congress.

"He hopes that it's a mandate for Democrats and Republicans to work together to get issues passed and enacted into law," Mr. Fleischer said. "The president will work very hard himself to make that the case."

Mr. Bush telephoned Republican and Democratic winners Wednesday, saying they should put the election behind them and establish a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security before the end of the year.

"The most important item of unfinished business for the Congress to deal with this year is the creation of the Department of Homeland Security," Mr. Fleischer said. "America remains a nation at war. We remain a nation where there are enemies who are trying to attack us. And the president thinks it remains a vital priority of the Congress this year to pass the Department of Homeland security."

That legislation was blocked by Senate Democrats who refused to give the president authority to violate civil service regulations in times of national emergency.

Mr. Fleischer says the president is pleased that he will have a Senate that will be more likely to work with him.

When the new Congress is sworn-in in January, it will be the first time in 50 years that Republicans have outright control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.