Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans, Democrats Trade Blame for Congress' Failures

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans, Democrats Trade Blame for Congress' Failures

Article excerpt

Struggling toward adjournment, members of the 103rd Congress traded blame for its failures Friday as they pulled the plug on lobbying and gift reform and tried to deal with other leftover bills.

"We ought to forget about this Congress as quickly as we can and go home," said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan.

But the road to adjournment remained rocky. An attempt by Senate Democrats to bring up a California desert wilderness bill ran into delay when Republicans forced the entire 61 pages to be read aloud. Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine threatened to keep the Senate in session into the weekend.

President Bill Clinton cited some accomplishments by Congress in the last two years - passage of deficit reduction, the crime bill, family leave and the North American Free Trade Agreement. But at a White House news conference, Clinton blamed Republicans for some of Congress' failures, saying that other efforts were squelched by "someone trying to stop it, slow it, kill it, or just talk it to death."

And Mitchell accused Republicans of "a cynical effort to discredit the Congress and then (say) . . . since Congress is not working, they (Republicans) should be put in charge."

Republicans were happy to claim responsibility and said it would serve them well in the November elections.

"We don't make any apologies for protecting the American taxpayer from bad legislation," Dole said.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., congratulated Dole for blocking many bills. "It's made a real difference, and it's going to affect this election," Lott said.

Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., said delay of the California desert bill was "purely and totally" aimed at denying an accomplishment to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and thus undermining her re-election chances.

Likewise, Democrats accused Republicans of blocking a lobbying and gift reform bill because the GOP did not want to rein in special-interest influence or give up perks like expense-paid golf, tennis and ski vacations. "A Republican filibuster has shot down the toughest lobby and gift reform legislation in the history of our country," said the bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. …

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