- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Senate leaders have not yet resolved a disagreement between the parties over how to divide funding for committees, but Republicans are confident that organization of the new committees will be completed later this week.
"We're going to keep talking about funding and space. It keeps progressing very, very well," said incoming Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.
Senate Democrats want a nearly equal split in committee funding. Republicans say because they have a clear majority in the Senate that incoming committee chairmen should be able to give two-thirds of funding to their party and one-third to Democrats. The funds are used for staff and other committee-related expenses.
"I don't know why there's such a big fuss over it," said Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican."History has always given us the majority gets two-thirds, the other ones get one-third."
Democrats want the same setup that was agreed to when Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont gave Democrats control of the Senate in June 2001 by leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. His switch made the Senate at that time 49 Republicans, 50 Democrats and 1 independent.
Under that setup, the minority party received nearly the same funding on committees for staff and other resources as the majority party. Both parties agreed to a similar plan in the first half of 2001, when Republicans controlled the 50-50 Senate owing to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
Mr. Frist met late yesterday with Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, to discuss several issues, but they did not resolve the funding matter.
Ranit Schmelzer, spokeswoman for Mr. Daschle, said there were "preliminary discussions" and that staff-level meetings were taking place as well.
"I'm sure [Mr. Frist] is hopeful as are we that this can be resolved amicably," she said.
Mr. Frist said he expects an organizing resolution to hit the floor later this week, but said that "funding and spatial issues are not a traditional part of that resolution if you look over the history of the Senate."
He said the organizing resolution would officially set the new Republican committee chairmen and committee structures. Miss Schmelzer said such a resolution would be amendable.
It has already been agreed that Republicans will have a one-member majority on committees, meaning that Democrats will have to cut a member from most committees, aides said.
"There is a strong feeling that any agreement this year should follow on what happened when Senator Jeffords switched," a Senate Democratic aide said.
But Republicans say that before the 50-50 Senate, committee funding was negotiated on a committee-by-committee basis and the majority historically had two-thirds of the funding.
Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the process this time may be resolved the same way, "where the chairman and ranking member sit down and figure out how to allocate both money and space. That's the way it's been historically done."
He said there is "a general consensus among our chairmen that we should go back to a funding ratio that is more reflective of past Congresses."
But the Senate Democratic aide said top Democrats on committees are being urged not to negotiate separate agreements with incoming Republican chairmen and to stand behind Mr. Daschle, insisting on "parity or near-parity in funding agreements."

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