- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

No stopping it
Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, who as Republican whip is in charge of vote-counting, says nothing can be done to alter the campaign finance reform bill, let alone stop it.
"It's going to pass, and it will pass without amendments," Mr. Nickles said on "Fox News Sunday."
"I think there probably should be some amendments, but the votes aren't there. It's going to pass. It's going to pass very quickly."
Mr. Nickles added: "I'm bothered right now that the proponents of campaign finance are running ads in Colorado trying to beat up Senator [Wayne] Allard using soft money, saying vote for this bill. That bothers me."
While Mr. Nickles was conceding defeat most Republican senators oppose the legislation Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said he expects a filibuster.
"If we have a filibuster, we're gong to do it around the clock, beginning on Wednesday, because I need to get this done by Friday," Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"And I believe we will get it done, either the easy way or the hard way, but it will be done by Friday."

Getting their attention
The rejection of Judge Charles W. Pickering for a seat on a federal appellate court, by a 10-9 party-line vote in the Judiciary Committee, continues to roil the Senate.
Sen. Don Nickles, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, expressed frustration yesterday with the way Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and the Democrats are running the Senate. And he said Republicans have to find a way to get their attention.
Although Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, has denied it, apparently one way of getting Mr. Daschle's attention is to block the appointment of a Daschle aide to the Federal Communications Commission.
"Well, we have to get their attention," Mr. Nickles said on "Fox News Sunday."
"And the Senate this is a real bad thing. I happen to love the Senate. I have been in the Senate for 22 years. And the way the Democrats are running the Senate right now bothers me a lot and not just the Judiciary Committee. …
"[Democratic] Senator [John] Breaux [of Louisiana] was right. They should have figured out a way [to get Mr. Pickering a vote by the entire Senate]. You don't kill the Republican leader's nominee. That is just not the way that things are supposed to do if you believe that this body is supposed to work.
"But it is not working in other ways. I'm on the Energy Committee. We are debating the energy bill on the floor of the Senate. I have been on the committee for 22 years. We didn't mark up the bill in the committee. Why? Because Tom Daschle didn't want us to, because he was afraid that we would put [oil drilling in the [SoftReturn]Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] in the bill. So I didn't have a chance."

Romney's decision
With the Olympic flame in Salt Lake City barely extinguished, acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift suddenly finds herself an underdog in her own Republican Party and fighting for her political life against Mitt Romney, the man credited with spiriting the Winter Games from scandal, Reuters reports.
Mr. Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, has given Mrs. Swift a political migraine while rattling Democrats.
And he hasn't even left Utah yet. Nor has he declared his candidacy.
One reason is a recent poll by Suffolk University that showed Mr. Romney trouncing Mrs. Swift 74 percent to 18 percent in a Republican primary. He also outpolls all the Democratic candidates, albeit by much slimmer margins, according to research released Thursday.
The question for the 600 volunteers at the "draft Mitt" movement is whether their man will run. Mr. Romney, 55, is expected to make a decision this week after he is feted today at a welcome-home celebration in Belmont, Mass., where he lives.

Carolina confusion
"Now that the North Carolina courts have put a stop to the primary for state offices scheduled for May 7, Tarheel politics have been thrown into a tailspin," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"First off, the court stopped the primary without ruling on the merits of the redistricting lawsuit that caused the problem. Sources say a ruling is expected sometime next week.
"Second, only the state primaries were canceled; the primaries for federal elective office could still be decided. The problem is that the state is, effectively, broke. Having asked the legislature to approve a very large tax increase, Democrat Gov. Mike Easley is unlikely to want to take the heat for two costly primary elections when they all could be consolidated on some future date, probably June 18.
"This, of course, thrills the campaign staff working for former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole, whose nomination on the Republican line is almost assured. The longer the primary process drags on, the more time former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, former State House Speaker Dan Blue, and current North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall have to spend money and beat each other up.
"The final monkey wrench in all this is that the congressional primary isn't much safer as far as court action goes. Many legal scholars suggest that Utah's lawsuit over Census Bureau procedures that awarded an additional congressional seat to North Carolina instead of Utah may have more merit then previously thought.
"North Carolina GOP political activists are confident the Supreme Court will rule for their state because a Utah victory might cost the GOP seats in other states that might then file suit. If Utah wins, however, the new North Carolina 13th Congressional District would become Utah's new 4th Congressional District and the North Carolina congressional map would have to be tossed, making all this very confusing indeed."

Hagel's opinion
Sen. Chuck Hagel says he agrees with Sens. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Ted Stevens Alaska Republican and the committee's vice chairman, that Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge should testify before that panel.
"It's always smart to talk to the money people. That's a given in this business. And I think it would be wise if the administration would allow [former] Governor Ridge to come before the committee and talk," Mr. Hagel said on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Kate Snow."
He said he is sure no one on the committee "expects Mr. Ridge to detail every dynamic of expenditures and budgets."
The Nebraska Republican says he also believes the administration should turn over some of the information the General Accounting Office seeks concerning the deliberations of Vice President Richard B. Cheney's energy task force.
It is "not responsible" for the administration to build "artificial barriers" by saying to Congress, "You can't have that because, constitutionally, you don't deserve it," Mr. Hagel said.
To end the stalemate, Mr. Hagel recommends that President Bush "make a deal" and "let Congress have some of the information."

Conspiracy theory
"The Republicans are back to conspiring again, this time to bankrupt Social Security. Or so claim the Democrats," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"In its latest bid to win back the House majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tells us of its plans to attack GOP Social Security reforms as a 'secret plan' to 'gamble' away the retirement program. Check out www.breakingthetrust.com. The GOP says it simply wants to give Americans a small percentage of their payroll tax to put into stocks."

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