- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

Let there be no doubt that, if President Bush's proposal to create a new Department of Homeland Security goes down to defeat in the coming days, responsibility will lie with Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Joseph Lieberman. On Tuesday, Mr. Daschle, speaking at a press conference with Mr. Lieberman by his side, tried to portray Republicans as obstructionists by blaming them for the fact that no bill has been passed, even though the measure has been debated on the Senate floor for close to a month.
Never mind the fact that, for weeks, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat a staunch opponent of any new Homeland Security Department has been conducting his own filibuster of the homeland security bill (perhaps that may have something to do with the fact that none of the 13 appropriations bills Congress was supposed to have passed by Oct. 1 has reached the president's desk). Messrs. Daschle and Lieberman suggest that the Republicans are to blame because on five occasions they have voted against versions of the homeland security legislation being backed by Senate Democrats and federal employee unions.
The substance of the disagreement remains the same: Mr. Daschle's Democrats and their allies in organized labor want to strip Mr. Bush of authority, held by every president since Jimmy Carter, to exempt employees in the new department from union control if the president concludes that such control would interfere with their "primary function of intelligence, counterintelligence or national security work." By contrast, Republicans led by retiring Sens. Phil Gramm and Fred Thompson, together with Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, have fought tenaciously to ensure that the president retain the authority to manage this critical security-related department in the event of a terrorism-related emergency.
At present, Mr. Bush and the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans (virtually everyone except Sen. Lincoln Chafee) are supporting a compromise homeland security proposal advocated by Messrs. Gramm and Miller, while Mr. Daschle's Democrats are lining up behind a non-compromise compromise pushed by Sens. John Breaux and Ben Nelson. The Breaux-Nelson measure would strip Mr. Bush of final authority over the new department. In order to ensure that the union-backed Breaux-Nelson measure passes, the Democrats are insisting that it get voted on before the Gramm-Miller proposal effectively denying Mr. Bush a straight up-or-down vote on his bill.
By doing so, they would effectively ensure that big federal employee labor unions prevail. They would, in effect, make slow-moving, bureaucratic labor boards like the Federal Labor Relations Authority, instead of the president of the United States, the final decision-makers when it comes to staffing and employment-related decisions. The political advantage, from Mr. Daschle's perspective, is that this course of action would enable embattled Democratic Senate incumbents like Max Cleland, Paul Wellstone and Jean Carnahan to claim that they supported the president on homeland security, while forcing the Republicans to choose between acquiescing to a bad bill or being labeled obstructionists.
In short, Mr. Daschle and his minions have cynically decided to put partisan political advantage for the Democratic Party and federal employee unions ahead of what should be one of their top national security priorities: sending the president a reasonable homeland security bill he can sign.

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