Edelman a Recess Appointee

President Bush again used a constitutional power to bypass the Senate and fill a senior Pentagon post with an official whose nomination was stalled in the Senate.

The White House announced yesterday that Bush named Eric S. Edelman to be undersecretary of defense for policy, the chief policy adviser to the secretary of defense. Edelman succeeds Douglas J. Feith, whose battles with Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) over the release of documents related to Iraq stalled Edelman's nomination.

Edelman is a career foreign service officer. He was ambassador to Turkey from July 2003 to June 2005 and a national security assistant to Vice President Cheney from February 2001 to June 2003.

Edelman's nomination to succeed Feith was sent to the Senate on May 16.

The Constitution gives the president the authority to put an official in a position without waiting for Senate confirmation when Congress is in recess. The official can serve until the end of the current Congress, which in this case is January 2007.

Last week, Bush approved a recess appointment for Peter Flory to be assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, a post that had not been filled by a Senate-confirmed official since J.D. Crouch left in 2004. On Aug. 1, Bush used the same power to install John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

Medicare Drug Charge Drops

Premiums for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit are expected to be $32 a month when the program begins next year, $5 less than projected, Bush administration officials announced.

Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, attributed the lower cost to "robust competition" among insurers eager to sign up clients.

McClellan and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said they are not revising earlier Wall Street projections that 28 million to 30 million senior citizens will sign up for the new coverage when enrollment begins in October. About 42 million elderly and disabled Americans are covered by Medicare.

For the first time, Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for prescription drug coverage in 2006. Under the law passed in late 2003, low-income seniors will be offered plans at little or no cost. As many as 14 million poor retirees will not pay any premium, McClellan said.

Insurers can begin marketing the voluntary drug plans in October. Seniors will have until May 2006 to enroll without facing a penalty.

Zell Miller Named to Panel

After snubbing his Democratic Party to deliver the keynote address for President Bush at the 2004 Republican convention, former senator Zell Miller (Ga.) seemed a good bet for an ambassadorship, adviser post or maybe even a Cabinet position.

Yesterday, the White House revealed Miller's choice: a seat on the American Battle Monuments Commission.

"I'm just an old man looking after cemeteries," Miller said.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Ceci Connolly and news services