From: Ann Curley
Subject: Congressional Democratic leaders vow to hold up the works unless contested elections are resolved
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt are both planning on using the matters of contested congressional races as reasons to throw monkey wrenches into the works of the House and Senate this fall.
On the House side, Gephardt said that the investigation into the Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) race, which is being contested by defeated former Rep. Bob Dornan, "should have been over long ago, and House Democrats are not going to let Republicans leave -- they say they want to leave in October -- we're not going to let them leave until this contest is dismissed as it should have been, a long time ago." Gephardt called the investigation "a political witch hunt" that is an attempt to cost Sanchez a great deal of money.
Daschle says that the matter of the contested race in Louisiana, over Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's race, will also be a point of Democratic parliamentary tactics; they will refuse to allow any Senate committee to meet beyond the first two hours after the Senate goes into session. Daschle defended the tactic, saying, "We have chosen to be very prudent in my view, in taking only one [parliamentary option], that is to refuse to allow committees to meet beyond the first two hours, and will continue with that position so long as the Landrieu matter is still outstanding."
The joint Democratic message of the day is that education is the issue of great unity within the House and Senate Democratic caucuses. Daschle said, "In essence, what we are proposing is that parents be given a report card on schools, a report card to determine the degree to which their schools are performing and thereby make some assessment as to whether or not their children are being educated to their expectations. That's all we're asking. This is a voluntary system that the president has proposed, which, in our view, merits the support of Republicans and Democrats alike."
Daschle deferred commenting on the issue of appointing an independent counsel to investigate fund-raising practices by Vice President Al Gore. "The whole purpose of an independent counsel is to depoliticize the process and I don't think it serves the purpose to have politicians, senators and congressmen, interject themselves into this process," he said. "This is a decision by the attorney general -- at some point she will make that decision and I will support it."
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