WASHINGTON - The Senate celebrated President Bush's inauguration Thursday by confirming the first two new members of his Cabinet, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
Spellings and Johanns were confirmed on a voice vote hours after Bush took the oath of office. Senators plan to confirm Carlos Gutierrez as commerce secretary on Monday and Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state on Wednesday.
Senators said Johanns, who was governor of Nebraska, was the perfect person for the job given his experience running a state with deep agricultural interests. "We could not have made a better choice," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Spellings was Bush's domestic policy chief. "I believe Margaret Spellings has the knowledge, the commitment and the leadership to improve the quality of education across our land," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Republicans wanted to confirm Rice on Thursday, but Democrats objected. Several Democrats want to debate Rice's nomination first, which could drag the process on for at least two days.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Rice told him during the inaugural ceremonies that she would not be hurt by that debate.
"She said her main goal was to make sure she was confirmed by the time of the president's State of the Union speech," Reid said. "This confirmation will take place at the latest sometime Wednesday."
Bush's pick for attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is expected to get a vote from the Senate in the next two weeks.