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Bush visits Senate GOP caucus

By Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to rally Senate Republicans to press his agenda even though they no longer control the chamber.

With the Senate preparing to leave Washington for a month-long recess, Bush thanked the senators for passing his tax cut and implored them to pass his education reform bill and faith-based social services initiative. Bush also reminded them to keep government spending down or risk a veto, among other things.

"We had a very good visit on a lot of range of issues," Bush said after the meeting. "I appreciate so very much the fact that these senators are committed to the budget we passed and that I intend to work with them to make sure we spend within the limits of the budget."

Senate Republican leaders told reporters Bush has a focused legislative agenda and blamed Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, for holding it up.

Although the president did not take questions during the hour-long lunch, he heard presentations from three senators on the top issues facing the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, talked about the challenges ahead in pushing through presidential "fast track" trade promotion authority and in crafting a prescription drug benefit for Medicare, something GOP pollsters say is essential to complete before the next election.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, the senior Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, spoke about the challenges of getting Bush's energy reform package through the Democrat-controlled Senate in the fall.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, discussed the new surplus projection expected out this summer, and how it will affect the budget debate of the fall.







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