WASHINGTON – After telling congressional leaders about throwing out the first pitch before game three of the World Series, President Bush tried to knock a double by pushing leaders to move on an aviation security bill being debated in the House and an economic stimulus package tied up in the Senate.
Sen. Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., told Fox News Wednesday that the Senate Republicans offered a package that reflected what the president wants, but it will have to be reconciled with a House version that passed last week.
"The Senate is going to find a way to deal with it in a week or so, and hopefully we can come to an agreement on a package that will have the necessary impact on the economy in the short term without long term negative effects," he said.
Lott added that the bill needs to make sure that tax relief is targeted and stays in a reasonable range.
"We think that we need to be careful here on Halloween not to have a bill that ... when you take [its] mask off, is just another large spending bill," he said.
Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Wednesday that, contrary to popular reports, the economic stimulus bill still has life in the Senate.
"It is not dead at all, and it was revived by our meeting with the president this morning," he said.
Daschle also said he was pleased by House Republicans who had taken an important step in the debate over an airline security bill in the House. Republicans agreed Tuesday to deputize baggage screeners at the nation's airports so they will be like law enforcement officials, but can be dismissed quickly if they fail in their duties.
The revised plan is a shift from the House Republicans' previous opposition to federalizing the nation's baggage handlers, a move unanimously approved by the Senate two weeks ago.
Daschle said that Congress will remain in session for as long as it takes to pass all bills that need to be considered, including the 13 appropriations bills to fund the federal government for fiscal 2002, which began on Oct. 1, as well as energy and trade promotion authority.
Meanwhile, Republicans have pushed for developing alternative energy resources, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, to reduce American reliance on foreign oil.
"We are dependent on foreign oil for almost 60 percent of our energy needs. That is dangerous," Lott said. "That is a national security issue. That is a financial issue. If we don't have the energy to drive the economy we're not going to have a growing economy."