White House to Revise Terror Proposal
Monday, September 18, 2006; 9:44 PM
WASHINGTON -- The White House said Monday it was revising its proposal for dealing with terrorism suspects as indications grew that President Bush's plan was meeting increased resistance among Republicans in both chambers of Congress.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said the administration was sending the new language in hopes of reaching an agreement. A revolt by GOP senators, who have written their own proposal giving terror detainees more rights than the administration wants, has embarrassed the White House at a time when Republicans want to use their security policies as a main platform in November's congressional elections.
"Our commitment to finding a resolution is strong," Perino said.
A week after a Republican-led Senate committee defied Bush and approved terror-detainee legislation that the president vowed to block, three more GOP senators said they now opposed the administration's version, joining the four Republicans who had already come out against it.
If all 44 Democrats plus the chamber's Democratic-leaning independent also vote for the alternative by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., as expected, that would give it a majority in the 100-member Senate.
In a further hint of problems for the administration, House officials said their chamber was postponing a vote planned for Wednesday on a bill mirroring Bush's proposal.
Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they have encountered resistance and were no longer certain they had enough votes to push the measure to passage through the GOP-run House.
Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the vote would be rescheduled to next week and blamed the delay on a request by the House Judiciary Committee to study the bill.
An administration official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity surrounding the negotiations, said the new language only addresses a dispute over the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which set the standard for treatment of prisoners taken during hostilities.
No other details of the new administration plan were initially available.
Warner told reporters Monday that the White House and his office continued to exchange "alternative proposals" on an informal basis and played down suggestions that the administration was backing down or rewriting its bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who helped Warner draft the alternative bill, said negotiations were helped by the two sides meeting over the weekend to debate the issue on network news shows and recognizing common goals. Graham appeared Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," alongside White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.