Most of the steps Bush is proposing have broad support on Capitol Hill, and congressional leaders hope to pass whichever proposals require their approval as soon as next week. A potential stumbling block is that Democrats want to add provisions to aid airline workers who were laid off in the wake of the attacks.
"It would be very difficult for us to pass the airline security bill without attaching some legislation that allows us to address the myriad of problems we're facing with unemployed workers," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said.
But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said he thinks an airline security bill should stand alone.
"I worry that if you start adding other areas on, whether they are good or bad or legitimate or not legitimate, then we may overload this" measure, Lott said. The bill "needs to be passed immediately."
There are 1,000 fewer domestic flights in the air each day now, compared with before the attacks, the Bush administration has said. Airlines are canceling flights, and even aboard the domestic flights that took off last week, 60 percent of seats remained vacant.
In addition to encouraging Americans to have faith in air travel, the president paid a visit yesterday to CIA headquarters, where he was also trying to restore some confidence. In the wake of the hijackings, critics have complained about failures in the CIA's intelligence gathering.
At least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has suggested that the CIA replace its current director, George J. Tenet.
"What we need is someone who can really manage the agency, someone with the stature of Colin Powell or Donald Rumsfeld," said Shelby, a Republican.
Shelby added in an interview with NBC that he thought "the job is getting away from" Tenet.
But to 500 cheering CIA workers yesterday, Bush said, "I've got a lot of confidence in [Tenet], and I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA. And so should America."
Bush also took time yesterday to honor a college student who was named Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year. Normally, such photo opportunities with the president are almost a daily routine. But yesterday's event was the first in the two weeks since the attacks on the United States.
The event underscored a message the White House is trying to send to Americans: They should get on with their daily lives, even as the administration mobilizes for military retaliation.
White House officials noted that the president has been leading by example. He took time to go out for dinner Tuesday night with his wife, Laura, at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Virginia.
Except for a tour of the World Trade Center site in New York and weekend trips to the Camp David presidential retreat, today's visit to Chicago is the first trip out of Washington for a president who values spending as much time away from the capital as he can.
"I think these things also mirror to some degree what the American people are doing - they're increasingly getting back on with their lives," said Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer.
Behind the scenes, though, many White House staffers are dealing with little else but war and terrorism. They say they have tried hard, as Bush has begun speaking this week of such issues as education and a patients' bill of rights, to resume their own routines.
"It's not normal here," said one Bush aide. "But you can't let a heightened state of security prevent you from doing a job the president brought you here to do."
The focus on terrorism at the White House has also stifled the efforts of some in Congress to bring the administration's attention to other domestic priorities. But most say they support having the White House devote so much time to its anti-terrorist operations.
"Their domestic policy staff is still fully engaged in dealing with this crisis," said Jim Manley, an aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.