Transportation Secretary Brock Adams denied yesterday that he is planning to leave the Carter administration and take up private law practice.
"I like what I'm doing" and "I do not intend to resign," Adams told a news conference he called specifically to deny a report in The New York Times. The Times, citing government and industry sources, said that Adams appears likely to be one of the first members of the Carter cabinet to depart.
There was no comment from the White House yesterday, but President Carter and many of his top advisers were attending an economic summit meeting in Bonn. Adams said after his press conference that he had attempted to contact the president and tell him the report was wrong, but he had been unable to do so.
"I honestly don't know where this is coming from," Adams said. He shrugged his shoulders and ducked into his office.
The report comes at a difficult time for Adams, when several important pieces of transportation legislation are stuck on Capitol Hill and when several of those that do emerge will bear little resemblance to the original administration proposals.
Among the transportation bills still needing final congressional action are aid for highways and mass transit, airlines deregulation, a surcharge on ticket prices to help airlines pay the cost of meeting noise regulations and waterway user charges.
"All of us have frustrations at times," Adams said at the press conference. "Any time you are taking on tough issues you are going to have people upset."
Adams also denied again that he will seek a Senate seat in Washington State in 1980.
Adams went out of his way to praise Terrence L. Bracy, his assistant secretary for governmental affairs. "He has done an excellent job," Adams said. There has been criticism in Congress and within the department that Adams, a former congressman from Seattle, has been ineffective in dealing with Capitol Hill.
Old congressional friends rallied to his side yesterday, including House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr., (D-Mass.) who called Adams "the finest secretary of transportation I have ever worked with."
Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Transportation subcommittee, said that he was "greatly relieved" at Adams' denial and that Adams "has done an outstanding job."
Adams said he had never been excluded from the White House "decision-making process when I have wanted to be involved in it."
In an interview last month with The Washington Post, Adams said he discusses policy questions with the president and with his chief domestic adviser, Stuart E. Eizenstat. Adams says he rarely sees Hamilton Jordan, Carter's senior political adviser.
"The political side of these things the president can talk to me about," Adams said. "Maybe I'm wrong, but I have the impression this department works pretty damn well.