Democrats, Republicans seek compromise from each other

Posted: Tuesday, August 07, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Democrats and Republicans alike say reaching a final agreement on big issues like patients' rights and energy policy will require compromise -- by the other side, that is.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card, for example, told NBC's ''Meet the Press'' that President Bush had already done his share of compromising on patients' rights and that ''the president's bill is the right bill,'' rather than one approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Asked if the White House were open to further compromise, Card redirected the question to Democrats. ''Why don't you ask the question of them,'' he said on CNN's ''Late Edition.'' ''Are they ready to make some compromises?''

Card and various administration and congressional leaders went on Sunday's television talk shows to recap recent legislative action and use the August recess to lay out opening positions for the fall.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson told ABC's ''This Week'' that with Democrats and Republicans in agreement on 90 percent of the patients' rights legislation, Democrats should simply ''take 90 percent.''

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, interviewed from the state fair in his home state of South Dakota, countered that Democrats had no intention of dropping their remaining objections in a House-Senate conference committee.

''We ought to be able to find a way to resolve the remaining 10 percent,'' Daschle told CBS' ''Face the Nation.'' He expressed confidence the patients' bill could be salvaged, but added, ''We're going to try to make it a stronger and better bill. We can't avoid the fight to do that.''

Energy policy was another area where both sides invited the other party to give ground.

Dangling the threat of a filibuster, Daschle said the administration should drop from its energy package a proposal to allow drilling for oil in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

''I would hope we could agree to disagree, take that out so we don't jeopardize the entire energy legislation,'' he said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., declared on ABC: ''The idea of drilling in the Arctic refuge is dead in the Senate. ... It's a short-term quick fix to a long-term problem, and it ruins forever one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America.''

Card acknowledged the proposal faces an uphill battle in the Senate, but Interior Secretary Gale Norton, interviewed on ''Fox News Sunday,'' said it was too soon to pronounce the drilling plan dead.

''We have seen from the House side that once people really study it, once they understand the issues, they recognize that this is being done with the most environmental protection that has ever been seen,'' Norton said.

With battles brewing in the fall on a number of other issues as well, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliff had some tongue-in-cheek good wishes on Fox for Bush: ''I hope he has a long, enjoyable vacation, four weeks down in Crawford, Texas, because he's going to need it when he gets back.''

Among other big issues for the fall:

Mexican trucks on U.S. roads. Card said legislation to set tough restrictions on Mexican trucks using American roads could draw Bush's first veto. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trucks deserve access to the U.S. market, he said. The bill is before a House-Senate conference committee.

Using stem cells from human embryos for medical research. Card said Bush would spend August weighing arguments and present his principles to Congress in the fall. He is reviewing the U.S. ban on federal funding for research that damages or destroys human embryos, in light of the potential of stem cells. ''There are obviously the hopes of science and technology, but there are also the concerns of ethics and morality,'' Card said.

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