Senators Joust Over Homeland Bill
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Sunday it will take ``some real effort″ to resolve the dispute that has stalled homeland security legislation.
``I am determined to pass this legislation before we leave″ to campaign for the Nov. 5 elections, Daschle said. He blamed Republicans for the delay, ``but we will get over that. We will try to work through that and try to bring this debate to a close in order to get to where we want.″
Bush on Saturday chastised Senate Democrats for demanding collective bargaining rights for workers in the proposed Homeland Security Department. Bush said inflexible union protections would ``prohibit us from doing the job of protecting the American people.″
Daschle, in turn, accused Republicans of trying to break the unions and wanting to return to the days when presidents could reward ``political hacks″ with government jobs.
Bush says a Democratic version of the bill would limit powers dating to President Kennedy that allow a president to waive union agreements for federal employees for reasons of national security.
About 43,000 of the proposed agency’s 170,000 employees belong to unions.
``If he wants a bill, we can get a bill. But we’ve got to work together to make sure that happens,″ Daschle said on NBC’s ``Meet the Press.″
``We can do it tomorrow. We could do it before the end of this week. But it’s going to take some real effort to come to some terms with regard to the concern that we both have with regard to how we address work force issues in the future.″
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the president simply wants the tools to best manage the new Cabinet-level department.
``The president wants the flexibility and the management ability and the national security waiver to say, `Forget all these delays and cumbersome rules, we’re going to do the job,′ and the Democrats don’t want that,″ Lott told ``Fox News Sunday.″