- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Senate Democrats are blocking Republicans from passing several of their top legislative priorities this week, including new border fencing, two of the Bush administration’s key counterterrorism programs and a drastic reduction in the estate tax.

“The legislative corner they’ve painted themselves in is very difficult,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters yesterday.

Democrats, while accusing Republicans of presiding over a “do-nothing” Congress, are slow-walking legislation but appear unlikely to kill outright any of the security measures as elections approach.

Asked yesterday whether Democrats will take advantage of Senate rules that allow lawmakers to demand 30 hours of debate on each bill, Mr. Reid replied: “Well, unless there’s some agreement, we’re going to go ahead and do the 30 hours.”

Democrats have been far less successful in delaying action in the House, where priority measures either have been passed or are expected to be this week.

Still, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, says Republicans have achieved little in this Congress.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, replied by saying, “It may be a do-nothing Congress for Mr. Hoyer and the Democrats because by and large they stand on the sidelines and do nothing.”

Last night, the House was able to pass, on a 394-22 vote, the military appropriations bill. The proposal allocates $448 billion: $70 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and $378 billion for general defense spending. The Senate is scheduled to pass the bill this week, before it adjourns for the November elections.

Democrats spent much of yesterday discussing the National Intelligence Estimate, which determined that the war in Iraq is fueling terrorism worldwide.

“It’s obvious that Republicans are trying to shift the focus away from the administration’s failures in Iraq to other issues,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said at a press conference. “They may not have a plan to complete, successfully, the mission in Iraq, but they do have a plan to win elections here at home.”

Mrs. Clinton was asked about the “Fox News Sunday” interview with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who responded angrily to a question from host Chris Wallace about whether he could have done more to stop Osama bin Laden from launching a terrorist strike on the United States.

“I think my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take these attacks,” she said. “All you have to do is read the 9/11 commission [report] to know what he and his administration did to protect Americans and prevent terrorist attacks against our country.”

She leveled a pointed attack on the Bush administration for its response to a classified report before the September 11 attacks titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.”

“I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team,” she said.

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