November 21, 2004


Republican Defiance on Intelligence Bill Is Surprising. Or Is It? (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 11/22/04, NY Times)

Did Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who called both chairmen in an attempt to turn them around, press as hard for the measure as they led the public to believe? Or are Mr. Hunter and Mr. Sensenbrenner so powerful that they can embarrass Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois - who negotiated the bill, then declined to bring it up for a vote when the chairmen balked - and thwart the will of the president?

"I don't think it was only House Republicans," Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and head of the Intelligence Committee, told Fox News on Sunday. Mr. Roberts added: "There's been a lot of opposition to this from the first. Some of it is turf, you know, quite frankly. Some of it is from the Pentagon. Some of it, quite frankly, is from the White House, despite what the president has said."

Mr. Bush, speaking at a news conference in Chile, said he was disappointed that the bill did not pass, adding, "When I get home, I look forward to getting it done.''

Members of both parties, and independent analysts, said Sunday that they had no doubt Congress would have passed the measure had President Bush flexed his muscle, as he did last year for Medicare prescription drug legislation that passed by a narrow margin over conservatives' objections. The intelligence bill had bipartisan support in the Senate.

In the House, the leadership probably could have cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to muster the 218 votes necessary for passage. [...]

On Sunday, some Democrats wondered aloud if the Pentagon's back-channel lobbying had the tacit approval of the president.

"I find it very hard to believe that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense would do all of that in contravention of the commander in chief's wishes," said one House negotiator, Representative Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Bush, Mr. Menendez said, "has the dirty work being done by the Pentagon people, using Duncan Hunter.

The President already made all the changes he wanted to via Executive Order, so it's easy to believe he didn't twist any arms here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2004 11:14 PM
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