- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Senate Republican leaders have fired the chambers parliamentarian, who had issued rulings this spring that were unfavorable to Republican tax-cut and budget plans.
A Senate Republican leadership source said yesterday that Parliamentarian Robert Dove was informed of the decision late last week. But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott told reporters yesterday that he wanted to meet with Mr. Dove before commenting on the matter.
Mr. Dove was still at work yesterday. One Senate source said he is likely to remain in his job for another month. His ouster was reported yesterday by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
The parliamentarians post is low-profile to the outside world but of considerable importance in the Senate, where he advises the presiding officer on Senate rules and procedures. The advice is usually followed by the presiding officer.
Mr. Doves boss, Secretary of the Senate Gary Sisco, would not comment except to say it was "an internal matter."
Senate Republican leaders were angered when Mr. Dove ruled that there could be only one tax-cut bill this year that would not be subject to a filibuster. The ruling limited Republican lawmakers options for approving President Bushs proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut, which a coalition of Senate Democrats and liberal Republicans trimmed to $1.35 trillion.
Another Senate Republican aide said Republican leaders were upset when Mr. Dove told them a 2002 budget provision setting aside more than $5 billion for natural disasters would have required a 60-vote majority. With the Senate divided 50-50 between the two parties, Republican leaders believed they could not gain enough votes, and they removed it from the budget.
But Mr. Dove has sided with Republicans many times as well in his job as arbiter of the numerous procedural disputes that arise. A Senate Republican leadership aide said yesterday it was not partisanship but perceived inconsistency that cost him his job.
"There have been inconsistent calls over a couple of years," the aide said. "It was one way one day, and the other way the next day on the same issue. We need a referee who makes consistent calls day after day."
Mr. Dove, 62, has served two tours as parliamentarian: first when Republicans controlled the Senate from 1981 to 1987, and again since Republicans regained the majority in 1995.
Mr. Lott and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle agreed last winter in a power-sharing deal that they would keep Mr. Sisco and the Senates sergeant at arms, James Ziglar, for the entire two-year session of Congress. But Mr. Doves job was not protected.
President Bush has nominated Mr. Ziglar to become commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Republican sources said Mr. Dove had informed Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico and Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska about his ruling on the disaster spending Thursday. When Mr. Lott learned of the decision, he told Mr. Sisco to fire Mr. Dove.
The parliamentarian is the Senates adviser on the interpretation of its rules and procedures. Staffers from the parliamentarians office sit on the Senate dais and advise the presiding officer on the conduct of Senate business. The office also refers bills to the appropriate committees on behalf of the Senates presiding officer.
Some Democrats viewed Mr. Dove as a partisan, due to his hiring by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his service on Mr. Doles staff when Republicans lost the majority in 1987.
Working in a job in which his every decision could provoke the wrath of one party or the other, Mr. Dove has seemed to recognize the perils of his position.
"Im always in the middle," he told Roll Call in 1997. "It's my job. I'm a referee."


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