WASHINGTON -- Nelson A. Rockefeller was late for work today in his first day as vice president but quickly took over the duties of his sole constitutional job -- presiding in the Senate.
Rockefeller, sworn in Thursday night as the nation's 41st vice president, arrived several minutes after the Senate opened its doors at 9 a.m. EST, apparently a victim of the morning traffic jam in Washington.
Carrying a black leather copy of the Senate rules, the former New York governor was greeted by GOP leaders Hugh Scott and Robert Griffin and Assistant Democratic leader Robert Byrd went through the formalities of opening the Senate.
Rockefeller then took over the presiding officer's chair from Sen. Thomas Mclntyre, DN. H., who was filling in.
He listened to Scott complain that Congress has been passing too many laws and should take time to review what it has done before embarking on more legislation. Byrd gave a synopsis of the accomplishments of the last session of 93rd Congress.
Scott, before the Senate began its last day of the session, told reporters that "the things he (Rockefeller) is called upon to do he will do exceedingly well."
Scott said that one of Rockefeller's key abilities is "attracting talented people" into government "and that's what we need.
"At last we're playing with a the 41st vice president, full deck," Scott said, referring to the four months during which the nation was without a vice president.
There were indications during the swearing-in ceremony Thursday night that Rockefeller would be the most active vice president in history. He pledged to help President Ford deal with the country's worsening economy.
The televised ceremony came two hours after the House voted 287-128 to confirm him as the 41st vice president.
For Rockefeller, 66, it was the end of a four-month political battle that has brought him the closest he has ever come to the presidency, which he tried three times to gain but failed.
For Ford, who has come under severe criticism for his handling of the economy, there was the hope that Rockefeller would be able to bring new talent and a fresh approach to the problems of inflation and recession.
Ford reportedly was considering appointing Rockefeller to head a new Domestic Policy Board designed to chart a new course for the administration on the economy.
He has said Rockefeller will be "a full working partner" In his administration.
Many members of Congress said they voted for Rockefeller's confirmation because they felt his ability to attract talented people into government would help Ford as President.
A few believe Rockefeller will turn out to be an "acting president" under Ford.
"This is a period In which our country faces tremendous difficulties," the former New York governor told members of Congress who crowded in to watch the swearing-in, the first event ever televised in the Senate chamber.
"But there is nothing wrong with America that Americans cannot right," Rockefeller said.