- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

FROM COMBINED DISPATCHES
The to-do list awaiting President Bush's return to the White House today is as long as time is short.
He wants a big new Pentagon budget, energy bill, legislation guaranteeing pension security and terrorism insurance, and a new Homeland Security Department on his desk in the next five weeks.
Mr. Bush was flying back to Washington from a monthlong stay at his Texas ranch to do legislative battle with Senate Democrats and race the clock against Congress' scheduled Oct. 4 adjournment for a final month of re-election campaigning.
"The president expects Congress to act on our shared priorities and get things done," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Additionally, quite possibly, the president will busy himself laying a public relations foundation for war with Iraq.
Mr. Bush promised a West Coast audience two weeks ago that they would "understand clearly, as time goes on" why he feels so strongly about unseating Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush speaks to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 12 and will use the speech primarily to try to keep international support for the war on terrorism.
But first up is the Senate debate, beginning Tuesday, on the president's proposal to create a Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Bush, who wants the department up and running by the new year, plans to bring senators to the White House for arm-twisting while Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Homeland Security adviser Tom Ridge work the corridors of Capitol Hill to beat back Senate Democrats' interest in folding intelligence agencies into the new bureaucracy. Another sticking point for Democrats, who control the Senate, is the president's insistence that he have enhanced powers of hiring, firing and spending at the new department.
Mr. Bush accuses the Senate of trying to micromanage the executive branch and putting their own turf worries before protecting the nation from attack.
He will make a splashier-than-usual argument for having the legislation his way when he meets Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Detroit on Sept. 9 under the banner of border security.
The president goes toe-to-toe with the Senate on Pentagon spending as well. The full Senate is working on more than $355 billion for the military $35 billion higher than this year's level but $11.4 billion less than what Mr. Bush wants much of it for the war against terrorism.
Other items that White House press secretary Ari Fleischer identified on the president's wish list for the remainder of this Congress are an energy bill that would increase domestic production of oil and gas; guarantees that businesses will have access to terrorism insurance; new pension protections; a ban on human cloning; welfare reform, including stiffer work requirements for benefit recipients; legislation making government social services grants available to religious groups.
Also, in his weekly radio address yesterday, Mr. Bush asked Americans to honor the memory of those who died September 11 by doing volunteer work.
"As September the 11th approaches, difficult memories of planes and buildings will resurface," he said. "But so will images of brave individuals coming to the aid of neighbors in need."
Mr. Bush, who will mark the one-year anniversary by visiting New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, where hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a rural community, killing more than 3,000 people, said the attacks had spawned "countless acts of generosity and sacrifice."
"That spirit of courage and selflessness has shown the world why our nation is the greatest force for good in history," he said. "I urge all Americans to honor the memory of those lost by serving others."
Democrats, however, continued to blame Republican policies for the nation's economic problems. Congressional Democrats called yesterday for a bipartisan economic summit, along with legislation to reform pension plans and tough investigations of corporate wrongdoing that has hammered stock values.
Giving the Democrats' weekly radio address for the Labor Day weekend, Rep. Martin Frost of Texas said the nation's "economic prosperity has disappeared on the Republicans' watch."
Mr. Frost cited a return of federal budget deficits, stock market losses, rising prescription drug costs and "massive criminality at Enron, WorldCom and others" that has pummeled retirement plans.


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