- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2002

Democrats this week are celebrating the one-year anniversary of Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party, while his former colleagues won't even mention him by name.
Mr. Jeffords' May 24 switch to an independent gave Democrats control by one vote of the Senate and has frustrated Republican efforts to pass President Bush's agenda.
Democrats are holding daily events this week to praise the party switch. Republicans countered yesterday by showcasing how the Senate has "gone to the dogs" under Democratic rule.
Led by three massive bloodhounds, Republican leaders entered the Lyndon B. Johnson room of the Capitol shouting "Find the budget," and "Come on Virgil, find the judge." For the first time in 25 years, the Senate has yet to pass a budget resolution, and Democrats are blocking Mr. Bush's conservative judicial nominations.
"As we have said many times, we have a serious problem with legislation being lost when it moves through the House and to the Senate so, we thought the best thing to do would be to bring in the bloodhounds and see if they can track it down and correct the problem," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican.
Republicans said Senate Democrats have "lost" legislation for welfare reform, terrorism insurance, pension security, the faith-based initiative, defense authorization and trade.
"We have a serious problem trying to find this legislation," Mr. Lott said.
Republicans blamed the deadlock on "obstructionism and partisanship," pointing to the six-week debate on the energy bill as a prime example.
"It's very hard to get anything done," Mr. Lott said. "We're having a very hard time moving the people's business through the Senate."
However, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Mr. Jeffords' switch enabled Democrats to "make a difference."
"I expect it will go down in history as one of the great American declarations of political conscience," the South Dakota Democrat said during a speech before the National Press Club yesterday.
Mr. Jeffords was first elected to Congress in 1974 as a Republican. He abandoned the Republican Party over differences on education spending, taxes and environmental issues.
"I knew that the unique circumstances of our time would allow one person to walk across the aisle and dramatically change the power structure of the government, to again give moderation and balance to the system," Mr. Jeffords said at a rally in his honor. "I knew it was my responsibility to do what I truly believed would be in the best interest of our country."
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, called Mr. Jeffords "a man who has made a difference for the children of America."
"He decided as a matter of conscience to become an independent and use his extraordinary voice of conscience to rally this nation to make sure that in the future we were going to meet our responsibilities to the neediest children," Mr. Kennedy said.


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