Tags: Will | Jeffords | Hand | Senate | Democrats?

Will Jeffords Hand Senate to Democrats?

Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM

Rumors that the liberal Republican might leave the GOP galvanized the Senate Tuesday, which is split 50-50 on party lines, because it would hand control over to the Democrats and drastically alter the political landscape in Washington.

A beaming Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D. walked off the Senate floor Tuesday night but said he did not know what Jeffords would announce.

National Review reported Tuesday that, according to Evans-Novak Political Report, Jeffords would become a Democrat. "Jeffords' aides said Bush's decision not to invite him to a ceremony honoring a Vermont teacher is prompting him to switch parties." But

Jeffords this week had fueled speculation that he might leave the GOP by releasing a nebulous statement.

"Regardless of party label, Sen. Jeffords will continue to do what is right for Vermont and the nation," Jeffords' spokesman Erik Smulson said Monday.

The Bush White House appears to have played at least some role in Jeffords' decision. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Jeffords fought to further boost education spending in the budget passing through Congress only to have the extra increase stripped out by his Republican colleagues to make room for a tax cut to benefit all taxpayers.

President Bush chose not to invite Jeffords to a recent White House ceremony when Bush gave a high-profile education award to a teacher - who happened to be from Vermont.

Jeffords has betrayed his party several times so far in the 107th Congress, for example by refusing to support Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut. In his post as chairman of the Senate education committee, Jeffords refused to endorse Bush's call to extend federal vouchers for use at private schools.

The 107th Congress has been punctuated by nearly continuous rumors that "moderate" senators such as Jeffords or Georgia Democrat Sen. Zell Miller might switch parties and tilt the balance of power in the Senate.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Rumors that the liberal Republican might leave the GOP galvanized the Senate Tuesday, which is split 50-50 on party lines, because it would hand control over to the Democrats and drastically alter the political landscape in Washington. A beaming Senate Minority Leader...
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2001-00-22
Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM
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