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Democrats Push Parcel of Bills That Could Split Republicans
Even the port-screening provision has a loophole. The secretary of homeland security can extend the deadline for full cargo screening by two years at a time if he deems it necessary.
A provision that declassifies the total annual intelligence budget was recommended by the Sept. 11 commission but is opposed by the White House. In a compromise with the administration, negotiators agreed to order a study that could allow the president to waive disclosure after two years if the report finds declassification has damaged national security, said Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the ranking Republican on the Senate homeland security committee.
"If he doesn't sign the 9/11 bill, I'll sleepwalk my way to 2008," Emanuel said. "It's game, set, match."
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said it is his understanding that the provisions most opposed by Bush had been removed, but the administration is still studying the accord.
The ethics agreement is expected to include a ban on lobbyist-funded meals, gifts and travel; restrictions on the use of corporate jets; and a mandate that lobbyists publicly disclose money they spend on events, foundations, conferences and charities tied to lawmakers.
The children's health bill presents a similar quandary for Republicans. The president has promised a veto, but Republicans are not convinced that he will follow through. The bills are designed to be paid for with a tax increase on tobacco. The House bill would also cut what Democrats call overpayments to managed care companies in the Medicare program in order to stave off cuts in physician reimbursement under Medicare, and it would increase funding for rural health care.
LaHood predicted that at least 20 Republicans will buck their leaders and vote for the bill. "When you look at the way they put this package together, it's a pretty good way to do it," he said. "I think it will withstand the criticism."
Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.