The Bush administration will work this week to secure passage of a sweeping intelligence overhaul bill, according to White House aides, who said President Bush continues to want the measure approved "as quickly as possible."
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan Monday said Bush will send a letter this week to congressional leaders making his views on the bill clear. A White House official familiar with the letter said it will "spell out the president's desire to get a bill passed." The letter also is likely to address directly the immigration and military chain of command issues that are holding up the legislation, according to the official.
"The objective is to get the bill passed and be helpful to those trying to get it passed," he said.
House Republican leaders declined to bring the measure to the floor before the Thanksgiving break because of the bill's failure to include certain immigration provisions and because of concerns that its new intelligence structure could interfere with the military chain of command.
The White House official said White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Legislative Affairs Director David Hobbs will be on hand at a Republican leadership retreat -- scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday -- to discuss the intelligence bill. McClellan indicated Bush might also be working the phones as part of the effort.
Meanwhile, members of the 9/11 Commission and a group of victims' families plan to keep the pressure on Congress this week to enact a bill. The two groups are holding separate news conferences Tuesday in Washington. Throughout the remainder of the week, the families are holding daily vigils in three locations across the country, including "Ground Zero" where the Twin Towers fell in New York City, Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Boston, Mass.