Inside Report: Disregarding Lott

Posted: Feb 16, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert ignored a warning from Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott that if the Republican-controlled House passed a third economic stimulus bill, it might result in Senate passage of Majority Leader Tom Daschle's version. It would take 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to pass any bill, but Lott warned at a joint session of the House and Senate Republican leadership that Daschle might be able to get that much support if the House pressed the Senate to take action. Hastert responded that it was essential to pass a stimulus bill to fight the recession. The exchange involving the House speaker and the Senate minority leader did not improve relations between the two top Republicans in Congress. House sources indicate that they seldom speak, and that Hastert is being urged by staffers to deal directly with Daschle without going through Lott. TEAMSTERS VS. KERRY The Teamsters union is opening fire on Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in two states that could be critical to his 2004 Democratic presidential bid: Florida and Iowa. The giant union ran newspaper advertisements in Florida and plans radio ads in Iowa this coming week against Kerry's opposition to oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Teamsters strongly support ANWR drilling, which Kerry has vowed to filibuster if necessary to keep it from passing. The Florida ads also attack Kerry's support of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast. "Florida and Alaska are 4,100 miles apart, but they have something very important in common," says the Teamsters ad, contending that Kerry "wants to tell them both what to do in their own back yards." EMBATTLED NAVY SECRETARY Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are on the rampage against Gordon England, secretary of the Navy, for ruling against continued live ammunition training at Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. Sen. James Inhofe is furious that England, an aerospace executive who is new to the Navy and lacks military service, overruled Naval officers' recommendation of retaining the Vieques range. Inhofe contended in an open hearing that England had promised him that he would follow the advice of the uniformed Navy. Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky added that if he had known in advance the position that England took, he would have voted against his confirmation by the Senate. England's verdict appears final, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saying that this is strictly a Navy matter. Inhofe was so upset that he explored ways of removing England from office, but found that there was none. GLOBAL WARMING POLITICS President Bush unveiled his controversial plan to control global warming Thursday after giving Republicans in Congress less than 24 hours advance notice. Aides to GOP members were summoned Wednesday night to be briefed by White House staffers. A policy analyst for House Majority Whip Tom DeLay asked why Republicans on Capitol Hill had not been alerted previously. The president's agents denied keeping Congress in the dark. DeLay's aide then asked anybody who had been contacted to raise his hand. Nobody did. Republicans grumble that even after the briefing, they did not know of the specific 18 percent target for the president's proposed reduction in greenhouse gas intensity -- information that had been released to reporters. MITCH FOR GOVERNOR Mitchell Daniels, who as federal budget director has antagonized Democrats in Congress by trying to control domestic spending, is being boosted back home in Indiana as the Republican candidate for governor in 2004. Before joining the Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly pharmaceutical manufacturers in 1990, Daniels had wide political experience. He was the top aide to Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, headed the Senate GOP campaign committee and served in the Reagan White House. With Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon ineligible for a third term, Republicans are looking to 2004 to win back the governorship after a 16-year drought. Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan is the likely Democratic candidate.