- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

Sponsors of President Bush's plan to create a new Department of Homeland Security yesterday turned up the pressure on Senate Democrats by vowing to include the proposal in any temporary spending bill that keeps the government open.
"We're not going to let them off the hook," said Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has said the Senate could return after the Nov. 5 election to complete work on the bill in a lame-duck session. The measure is stalled in a dispute between Democrats and the White House over union protections for employees of the new department.
Daschle spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer said Mr. Gramm's tactic is "unworkable" because congressional leaders of both parties agreed last week with Mr. Bush not to add unrelated amendments to any temporary spending bill.
The House approved the White House's homeland security plan months ago.
Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat and a co-sponsor of the White House version, said lawmakers should finish the job before the election.
"I don't want to go home until we do something about homeland security," Mr. Miller said. "It needs to be done now."
Congress has finished only three of 13 appropriations bills this fall, and congressional leaders are holding talks about a temporary spending bill to keep funding the government at current levels until sometime after the election.
The announcement by Mr. Gramm and Mr. Miller that they will add the homeland security measure to such a spending bill added uncertainty to the question of when Congress will adjourn. Republicans say the added pressure might persuade Democrats to reach a compromise.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said Mr. Daschle is not serious about a lame-duck session.
"He doesn't mean it," Mr. Lott said. "He would hate a lame-duck session. It would be an absolute disaster. Nothing will happen, and we'll look bad doing nothing."
Mr. Lott said he is serving as an "unbiased facilitator" in talks between Mr. Daschle and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, on how to wrap up the current session.
"I'm trying to talk to Daschle, I'm trying to talk to Denny," he said. "In the end, they're the two guys who have got to make the final call. But at least I'm talking to both sides at the Capitol, trying to figure out how we deal with all the different competing views of when and how to end it."
Mr. Gramm, who is retiring, said he has promised Mr. Bush that he will work hard to get a deal on homeland security before Congress adjourns.
"This is something I've worked hard on," Mr. Gramm said. "I hate to have the last thing I work on die, but it may very well happen."


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