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WHITE HOUSE SENDS PINK SLIPS TO MOST OF BUSH’S APPOINTEES

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The White House has sent pink slips to virtually all of President Bush's top appointees letting them know they are out of a job as of noon on Inauguration Day, officials said Friday.Among those the ax fell on were Bernadine Healy, director of the National Institutes of Health, and David Kessler, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, who reportedly had hoped to be kept on by the Clinton administration.

White House officials said they were just carrying out orders from President-elect Clinton's transition team.

Constance Horner, Bush's director of presidential personnel, sent a memo Wednesday to about 500 top appointees notifying them that Bush had accepted their resignations.

She had requested letters of resignation from all of them Dec. 22.

For those who failed to reply, she notified them that they served at the pleasure of the president, and "it is the pleasure of the president that their appointments be terminated effective noon, January 20."

Horner's edict applied to all those in full-time jobs that required Senate confirmation. It allowed for a limited number of exceptions, including ambassadors serving abroad, inspectors general and U.S. attorneys and marshals.

Alexis Herman, a deputy director of Clinton's transition team, sent Bush officials a letter on Thursday signaling its intention to get rid immediately of even lower level Bush political appointees.

Bush officials had informed the Clinton team they would not demand resignation letters from the so-called Schedule C political appointees and non-career members of the Senior Executive Service.

But Herman wrote back, "We will act on January 21 to remove Schedule C's, non-career SES's and those presidential appointees whose presence are not statutorily required. We are advising you of this action so that we do not leave any false expectations of continued service, and to allow appropriate time for those employees to be given sufficient notice."

Horner's memo instructed the outgoing Republican Cabinet secretaries and agency heads to leave behind a single presidentially appointed individual in each agency to remain in legal charge until the new president appoints his own people.

Clinton could temporarily appoint some of the Bush officials to their old jobs, but they would require Senate confirmation all over again if he wanted to make them permanent.