WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republicans brought threats to investigate Democratic misconduct to the Senate floor Friday, after a California Democrat promised again to force a vote to require public hearings for Sen. Bob Packwood.

Foreshadowing a more acerbic debate next week, Sen. Barbara Boxer said she would ``not be deterred'' in her attempt to force hearings on allegations that Packwood, R-Ore., committed sexual and official misconduct.

Ethics Committee Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rose several hours later and repeated the GOP warning. ``I will be prepared to discuss and debate congressional action on misconduct cases in the past and other relevant issues.'' McConnell has refused to convene the committee to deliberate on the Packwood hearings issue.

Republicans said repeatedly over the past two weeks that if Boxer refused to back off, they would amend her proposal to also require hearings on Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the minority leader.

The references were to the 1969 drowning of a woman in a car driven by Kennedy; and allegations that Daschle tried to eliminate a government charter inspection program at the request of a friend's air charter company. The Kennedy incident was the same year as the first sexual misconduct allegation against Packwood.

Taking the hearings issue to the full Senate for the first time, Boxer asked: ``And what is the message here? That the more embarrassing the charges are, the more a senator will be protected behind closed doors?''

She asked: ``If all the other issues were dealt with in public, is it a signal that if the issue is sexual misconduct, you get the safe haven of a private club?''

McConnell replied, ``We will not respond to any attempts to threaten the committee.'' The chairman said he has begun a ``cooling-off period'' that will continue ``as long as Sen. Boxer's threat remains.''

In public and private, several Republicans have accused Boxer of remaining silent on public hearings in sexual misconduct cases during her decade in the House.

``Perhaps the most shocking thing to me in this process has been the public and private threats to a senator who simply wants to continue the tradition of public hearings,'' Boxer said. ``But I will not be deterred, and I believe most senators will support public hearings.''

Countering Republican arguments that hearings would damage the Senate, Boxer said, ``We irrevocably lose the people's respect by sweeping our problems under the committee room rug.''

Several women who said they were grabbed and kissed by Packwood against their will have demanded the right to testify in public.

Saying she would force a debate next week, Boxer said, ``a major procedural change overturning decades of well-established precedent must be debated by the full Senate.''

The Ethics Committee has found ``substantial credible evidence'' that Packwood made unwanted sexual advances to 17 women in 18 instances from 1969 to 1990; altered his personal diaries when he learned the committee might subpoena them for the investigation; and tried to solicit a job for his wife from lobbyists and businessmen with legislative interests, while the couple was obtaining a divorce. Any increase in Mrs. Packwood's income could have lowered the senator's alimony payments.