- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

Daschle vs. Stevens
Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, became visibly angry and stormed off the floor yesterday after Majority Leader Tom Daschle vowed to hold up emergency funding for the military unless Republicans agreed to pass the Democratic version of a patients' bill of rights by 6 p.m.
Mr. Daschle's actions yesterday confirmed a Republican charge that he was holding hostage a supplemental appropriation for the Pentagon. Not only that, the Democratic leader infuriated Mr. Stevens by accusing him of putting vacation plans ahead of the nation's men and women in uniform.
Mr. Daschle started the flap by taking the Senate floor to read lengthy excerpts from a front-page story Tuesday in The Washington Times, which reported Pentagon projections that the U.S. military would be forced to curtail or cancel training exercises, facilities repairs and equipment maintenance if he held up a pending emergency budget until late July.
"We are not going to be accused of endangering the military," Mr. Daschle said, while at the same time refusing a plea from Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, the minority leader, to set aside a few hours to act on the supplemental and send it back to the House for final passage before that chamber adjourns today for the July 4 recess. No, said Mr. Daschle, not until the patients' rights bill was finished.
Mr. Stevens then rose, pointing out that the House would not delay its recess just to satisfy Mr. Daschle's demands.
Mr. Daschle again refused to budge.
"And now I must speak personally to both leaders," Mr. Stevens added. "My Kenai Peninsula is on fire, and that's where I want to go fishing next week, too, by reason of a disaster and the urgent call of the king salmon to respond to … . I plead with the leaders to let us have the reins for a few hours and see what we can do. I think we can finish this bill tonight. I really do."
Mr. Daschle then chided the Alaskan, saying the military appropriation is "more important than fishing, than any other kind of vacation we could be taking next week."
Mr. Stevens exploded. "I think that's a little bit of a cheap shot. I'm not talking about vacation. I'm willing to stay as long as any other senator. I'm talking about the realities of the House. And leader, I'm not going to forget that. That's a cheap shot. I object."
And he stormed off the Senate floor.

Rude surprise
Twenty-five Muslim leaders got a rude surprise yesterday when they visited the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Old Executive Office Building.
They had planned on a cordial briefing with the Rev. Mark Scott, associate director of the office.
About 20 minutes into the meeting, a security guard entered the room and hauled out Abdallah Al-Arian, 20, an aide to Rep. David E. Bonior, Michigan Democrat. No explanation was given as they took him outside.
Outraged, the rest of the Muslim delegation walked out, then started making press calls on their cell phones.
Mr. Al-Arian is a Duke University student who is the son of American Muslim activist Sami Al-Arian, who heads the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedoms.
"This incident is the latest in an unfortunate pattern of exclusion by the Bush administration," the Muslims said in a statement released by the Council on American Islamic Relations. "It sends a message to American Muslims that the White House will engage only if it is allowed to dictate the terms and decide who is allowed at the table."

The 'extremist' tactic
On the day after Bret Schundler's stunning victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary in New Jersey, Democratic nominee James E. McGreevey was busy trying to cast the conservative Jersey City mayor as an extremist.
"Carrying a concealed weapon is not a new idea, it's a bad idea. Taking money from public schools is not a new idea, it's a bad idea. Preventing abortions even in the case of rape or incest is not a new idea, it's a bad idea," Mr. McGreevey said Wednesday.
But Mr. Schundler's aides are daring Mr. McGreevey to stay on that road, the New York Times reports.
"McGreevey is making a fundamental strategic error if he wastes all his resources on driving a negative message on Bret," Schundler campaign manager Bill Pascoe said. "We will respond that there's nobody, Republican, Democrat or independent, who believes that taxes should go up, or that we can continue to go ahead without reforming an education system that's failing; that nobody believes that New Jersey should be paved over, and that nobody believes there should continue to be tolls on the parkway."

McCain's threat
Sen. John McCain has threatened to work with Democrats to defeat House Republicans who fail to toe the line on the Arizona Republican's version of campaign-finance reform, Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt writes.
"Sen. McCain plans to stump for Republicans who've aligned with him on this issue. But he warns that those who indicated support during the last election but then sell their souls to House Whip Tom DeLay on the vote will pay a price," Mr. Hunt said.
"An example: If Florida Rep. Clay Shaw votes against the campaign-finance reform legislation, Mr. McCain says he'll write a letter to the 2000 Democratic candidate in that district to apologize for his role in helping Rep. Shaw eke out a narrow victory."

Party time
Republican lawmakers and donors partied around a giant "W" at a presidential dinner that raised more than $20 million for GOP's congressional candidates.
The Wednesday night dinner opened what party officials say will be a summer of fund raising by President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney for Republican House and Senate candidates, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Bush thanked contributors profusely in an 18-minute speech that touched on his policies on tax cuts, education and defense.
"Make no mistake about it: This dinner has one goal in mind, to make sure Denny Hastert remains the speaker of the House and to make sure Trent Lott is the majority leader of the United States Senate," he said.

Party time II
Roberta Flack was scheduled to perform at a $1 million Democratic National Committee fund-raiser last night.
Former vice presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman was the featured guest at the DNC fund-raiser. The Connecticut senator, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former President Bill Clinton have all headlined Democratic fund-raisers in recent weeks and are expected to do more this summer, the Associated Press reports.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is inviting big donors to spend July 6-8 on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket dining and sailing with Mr. Daschle and more than a dozen other senators. Those giving $20,000 in federally regulated donations or $50,000 in unregulated "soft money" are invited.

Bill Clinton returns
Bill Clinton, in his first speech in Washington since leaving the White House, remarked yesterday that no one much cares what he thinks any more.
Spotting veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas in the audience of about 200 media, academics and policy-makers at the Hotel Washington, Mr. Clinton said, "Helen, you can even ask me a question when it's over. I can say that 'cause nobody cares what my answer is any more."
Mr. Clinton spoke — for free — on the role of race and the press, Reuters reports. His address was sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Afterward, he declined to answer a question about his brother Roger, who reportedly interceded on behalf of a convicted heroin trafficker seeking a pardon.


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