- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

The simmering feud between the House and Senate escalated yesterday as House Republicans, with the blessing of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, accused senators of ignoring major bills.

"So many bills we've passed in the House have disappeared in the Senate," said Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican. "The charm of Senate wisdom has run thin."

Mr. Kingston and other members of Mr. Hastert's newly formed "agenda team" criticized the Senate for dragging its feet on education reform, energy legislation, an economic-stimulus plan, health care reform, prescription drugs and "fast-track" trade authority for President Bush.

"They're probably right," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican. "There are several important issues … that the Senate has not taken up. I regret that."

The House has approved energy and stimulus bills; the Senate has not. A House-Senate education conference is making progress, while a conference on a patients' bill of rights is stalled. Neither chamber has approved prescription drug or trade legislation.

House Republicans directed most of their wrath at Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who is resisting Republicans' stimulus plans and has vowed not to allow a vote on a national energy policy if it includes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"They're intentionally holding up the [energy] bill," said Rep. Heather A. Wilson, New Mexico Republican.

Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, defended the Senate's work.

"We have focused, particularly when it has to do with the war on terrorism and national security issues, on having strongly bipartisan legislation so the American people knew we were together in this war," Mr. Edwards said. "I'm actually pleased with the work we've done."

But the bad blood between the chambers over closing Congress during the anthrax attack also persisted, and Mr. Kingston acknowledged it played a part in the House Republicans' action yesterday. House members of both parties have expressed anger at senators for backing out of an agreement to close the Capitol and then bragging about their courage for keeping the Senate open while the House closed.

Asked if he was concerned about portraying Senate Republicans as ineffective, Mr. Kingston replied, "not particularly."

"We might get them to start acting like Republicans, who knows?" Mr. Kingston said.

He said House Republicans "don't understand where Senate Republicans were" on the airline security bill that passed the Senate 100-0 despite the opposition of Mr. Bush.

The House group that took turns knocking the Senate before television cameras included centrist Republican Reps. Michael N. Castle of Delaware and Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut.

"A free nation can't move forward without a budget," Mrs. Johnson said. "The Senate is way behind."

Their action is also the latest symptom of a growing belief among House Republicans that the Bush administration is taking them for granted, despite their having led the way this year on tax cuts and other White House initiatives.

House Republicans are growing increasing irritated with members of the Bush Cabinet, particularly Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, who has belittled the House economic-stimulus plan.

The rift opened a little wider this week when the administration's new homeland security chief, Tom Ridge, missed a meeting with House Republicans because he was briefing House Democrats at the same time.

Said a House Republican leadership aide, "We love the president. It's his Cabinet we can't stand."

The House-Senate sniping shows no sign of abating. Mr. Kingston said the "crack in the dam of camaraderie" came shortly after September 11, when Mr. Bush criticized Congress for a senator leaking classified intelligence information to the media.

"We know that came from a senator," Mr. Kingston said. "So we feel that you had 435 members of the House smeared on that. And week after week we see senators grandstanding on this or that and pontificating on things."


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