- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2001

President Bush yesterday urged Senate Republicans to hold the line on spending, starting with an emergency farm bill that Democrats want to pass this week.
"I intend to work with them to make sure we spend within the limits of the budget," Mr. Bush said after the private luncheon at the Capitol.
But a little over an hour later, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and his fellow Democrats defeated 52-48 a farm bill favored by the White House that would cost $5.5 billion.
Democrats want to spend at least $7.4 billion on farm aid, and they were joined by two Republicans: Sen. Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, who is up for re-election next year, and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine. The president has promised to veto the costlier bill.
"The president said he would veto a [bill] that would be breaking the budget, and we told him we'd sustain his veto all day long," said Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and minority whip.
In his third visit to the Capitol in a month, Mr. Bush dined on a peanut butter-and-raspberry jelly sandwich and cajoled lawmakers to renew their work on his stalled education package, his national energy policy, fast-track trade authority, his faith-based social service plan and a patients' rights bill. Vice President Richard B. Cheney also attended.
"We had a very good visit on a wide range of issues," Mr. Bush told reporters. "I'm looking forward to continuing to work with all senators that are interested in advancing a positive agenda."
Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Republican Conference, said the "unspoken" theme of the luncheon was that Senate Democrats are blocking the president's agenda.
"The president has a very focused agenda, and right now the Senate Democrats have decided that they're going to try to hold up that agenda," Mr. Santorum said. "I am hopeful that we, in concert, can work very hard and try to get some bipartisan cooperation. Much was talked about when Senator Daschle became leader. Not much has been seen since Senator Daschle became leader."
Senators said Mr. Bush was positive, even when he was needling Mr. Santorum — the president's nickname for him is "Ricky" — about his vote against the administration on a Mexican trucking issue.
"It was very good-natured," Mr. Santorum said. "Repeated, but good-natured."
"I don't feel that he expresses frustrations," said Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. "He's always an upbeat guy."
But Mr. Bush did re-emphasize his commitment to slow the growth of discretionary federal spending from its recent high of 8 percent to about 4 percent. And he said the place to start is the current emergency farm bill.
"He was very focused on that — we're going to see fiscal responsibility in this city," said Mr. Santorum.
The Senate authorized $5.5 billion in extra farm aid in the budget this spring. But two weeks ago Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa and his Democratic colleagues overrode Republican objections and added nearly $2 billion more to the bill.
Mr. Daschle said the aid to farmers and ranchers is "urgent" and the Senate must approve it this week. Republicans say farmers won't get any relief if Democrats insist on the more expensive bill, because the House approved $5.5 billion and a conference committee is not likely to act before Congress adjourns Friday for a monthlong recess.
After yesterday's Senate vote, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, accused Mr. Daschle of putting partisan politics ahead of farming interests.
"Because he hails from a rural state, Daschle should know firsthand that the American farmers are hurting and he should be embarrassed to have delayed this needed aid from getting to the farming families," said Mr. DeLay. "It's time for the new majority leader, Tom Daschle, to stop playing political games and be a leader."
Mr. Daschle said many farmers and ranchers would lose about 50 percent of their income this year without the larger aid package, and that lawmakers should not leave town until they agree on the relief.
Speaking of all the work that the Senate must complete before the recess, he told reporters, "This may go down in history as one of the most productive weeks of my leadership so far, or a complete bust. Stay tuned."
Mr. Bush also appealed to Republican senators to get moving again on his education package, which is bogged down in a House-Senate conference committee.
"We need to get that on my desk pretty quickly," Mr. Bush said. "There's a lot of folks fixing to go back to school. It'd be nice for them to know what the rules are. And so I'd urge the conferees again to come together. I'm going to be visiting with them later on this week."
Republican lawmakers say Mr. Daschle is stalling action on the education bill until the appropriations season is at full throttle, hoping to add as much money as possible to the package. Mr. Daschle said funding is "a major question" but is not the cause of the current delay.
"There are a lot of policy differences that have to be addressed, and I would hope that they'd seriously begin addressing them, rather than publicly posturing about whose fault it is that we're not any farther along," he said.

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