Congressional Republicans say Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has an ulterior motive for not scheduling a vote on an energy bill in the waning days of this session it would interfere with a Democratic fund-raising tour.
Mr. Daschle said this week that the Senate doesn’t have time to vote in December on a national energy policy or a bill to ban human cloning. Both measures passed the House months ago.
But Republicans pointed out yesterday that Mr. Daschle is scheduled to take part in a multistate fund-raising tour the week of Dec. 10. The trip, which is to include Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, will stop in Kansas City, Mo.; Detroit; California’s Silicon Valley; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.
“Senator Daschle is willing to derail vital pieces of the national agenda in an effort to clear the Senate calendar for a Democrat fund-raising trip,” said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. “It’s beyond irresponsibility for the Senate majority leader to leave town for a week in order to substitute his party’s political priorities for our national priorities.”
Republican Sens. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Frank H. Murkowski of Alaska both called on Mr. Daschle yesterday to stay in town and cancel his fund-raising plans to work on an energy bill. The House-passed version allows for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Senate Democrats have vowed to block such drilling.
A spokesman for Mr. Daschle did not respond to an inquiry, but Democratic sources said the majority leader would simply cancel his participation in the trip if Congress is still tied up with legislation.
DSCC spokeswoman Tovah Ravitz said, “What we’ve been told by the Senate leadership is that every one of our events in December are tentative, that the Senate schedule may overtake our events. So, everyone there has been put on notice that their events are taking a back seat.”
Mr. Daschle yesterday challenged the Republican Party to work on Christmas Eve, or the week between Christmas and New Year’s, if they are truly interested in working on an energy bill.
Senate Republicans have raised a total of $44.2 million this year, according to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Of that amount, $25.7 million is in federal “hard” money, and $18.5 million is in non-federal “soft” money. Republicans have $17.3 million in cash on hand.
Senate Democrats have raised $26.5 million this year $10.1 million in hard money, and $16.4 million in soft money, according to the DSCC. Democrats have a total of $11.3 million in cash on hand, with only $1.4 million in hard money and $9.8 million in soft money.
Audrey Hudson contributed to this article.