Tags: Bipartisanship | Shows | Its | Limits

Bipartisanship Shows Its Limits

Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM

Democrats Tuesday called for White House cooperation to quickly move a bill to help some 100,000 aerospace workers hit by the economic fallout from the attacks. That bill would extend cash payments to buttress workers' unemployment insurance, establish retraining programs, and cover health insurance payments. Republicans last week rejected the effort by the Democrats to pass the worker-assistance package along with a $15 billion airline-bailout bill passed by Congress.

Democrats said Tuesday that until now, they have relented on many demands in order to allow a small group of leaders from both parties to quickly cut deals with the White House in response to the attacks.

"I said last week and the week before, that whenever you shortcut the normal process, there's always a problem in leaving behind good ideas," Gephardt said. "First, (we should be) coming to the aid of workers just like we helped the airlines last week and doing our part to strengthen the economy."

Gephardt said the bill to help workers might go along with a separate measure to improve airline security.

Bush said Tuesday that along with airline security, he would consider ways "to make sure that the displaced worker is given due consideration in the halls of government."

"There is no consensus yet," Bush added.

On an issue considered anathema by many Democrats, Republicans Tuesday renewed a call to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republicans said the United States should depend on domestic as opposed to foreign sources of fuel, given the attacks Sept. 11.

"We suffered a terrible attack," House Majority Whip Tom Delay said at a press conference attended by fellow Republicans. "We need energy security now. One important step would be opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

Attorney General John Ashcroft also faced a second day of grilling at the hands of lawmakers - mostly Democrats - who are concerned that Ashcroft's proposal to boost government authority to tap phones and use immigration law to detain and deport suspects could infringe on civil liberties. Ashcroft has called on Congress to move his bill this week, but Democrats in the Senate have signaled they will take their time with such a weighty issue.

Political pundits said members of both parties are feeling out how to begin moving their own agendas in a new political paradigm.

"Members are gingerly trying to get their bearings on how to address partisan agendas in a bipartisan environment," Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Marshall Wittmann said.

Pundits also said that many rank-and-file members are simply frustrated because they did not take part in efforts by a small group of leaders from both parties who hammered out a resolution of force and an airline bailout package at break-neck speed. Those members want to work on their own pet issues.

"You've got a lot of members with nothing to do," Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said. "That doesn't work in Congress."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Democrats Tuesday called for White House cooperation to quickly move a bill to help some 100,000 aerospace workers hit by the economic fallout from the attacks. That bill would extend cash payments to buttress workers' unemployment insurance, establish retraining programs,...
Bipartisanship,Shows,Its,Limits
497
2001-00-25
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM
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