Senators of both parties yesterday said Congress would provide President Bush with legislation to deal with the terror suspects detained at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following a Supreme Court decision that limited the White House’s authority in dealing with the detainees.
Some Republicans said they hoped to have legislation in place by September, with influential liberal Democrats saying they expected to give Mr. Bush the necessary tools for handling the issue and not obstruct the bills.
“I would hope Congress would have hearings about what to do in light of this decision,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “And that we will sit down together … in August, write legislation and hopefully vote by September.”
“There’s nothing more important than the war on terror,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think we will have to act on this very soon, either in July or in September. Certainly, in the next couple of months.”
Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, promised that his party would work with Republicans and the White House on a compromise.
“I believe we will cooperate, and I think cooperation will be required by all parties, including the president,” Mr. Reed told Fox. “I think that’s something that will come together in a bipartisan basis, I hope, in a deliberate and quick fashion.”
Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress, was asked on CNN’s “Late Edition” by host John Roberts whether “you believe that Congress needs to give the president the power, the latitude … to prosecute these prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo Bay?”
“Of course. And, in fact, again, I want to stress, many in Congress have wanted to do that,” Mr. Frank said.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, expressed many strong differences with Republicans and the White House, but also promised to compromise in finding a solution.
“On giving the president what he needs and giving our country what we need to fight the war on terror, there’s going to be agreement,” Mr. Schumer said during his appearance on “Meet the Press.”
Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the Judiciary Committee has already scheduled hearings on the issue, to begin next week.
“I think that we should now have hearings in the Judiciary Committee, which we’ve scheduled for July 11,” Mr. Specter said.
Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and Armed Services Committee member, told CBS that his panel will “have hearings in a couple of weeks.”
Despite the talk of compromise, there are sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans regarding how far the Supreme Court’s decision goes.
“[Thursday’s] Supreme Court decision reaffirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press release issued after the court’s decision.
Fellow California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein agreed with Mrs. Pelosi, telling ABC’s “This Week,” that any decision by Congress should give “detainees the rights that the Constitution provides.” Mrs. Feinstein disagreed that offering enemy combatants the same legal protections as Americans would make Democrats appear weak on national security. “This is our strength. It is not our weakness.”
Mrs. Feinstein also said she believes the court’s decision applies to the administration’s terrorist-surveillance program.
Mr. Schumer seemed to agree, telling NBC that the court’s decision may have deeper implications. “We’re going to have to not only look at this issue, we’re going to have to go back to the other issues, as well,” he said, “because this ruling undercuts some of the other things the president has done.”