Republican supporters of a sweeping revision of the Hatch Act to allow federal workers to participate in partisan politics on their own time stood their ground yesterday in a long-sought meeting with administration opponents.
"Opposition to the bill permeates the administration," Office of Management and Budget Director James C. Miller III said. "I have talked to no one who said a positive thing about it, but we will look at it."
He promised his fellow Republicans a formal analysis of the measure before rejecting it, and a Cabinet-level meeting scheduled for today on Hatch Act revision was canceled.
According to two participants in the meeting, Rep. Danny Lee Burton (R-Ind.) asked, "Why didn't the administration do anything while we were working this out and then jump in at the 11th hour against it?"
Constance J. Horner, director of the Office of Personnel Management, replied that the bill was approved by the Post Office and Civil Service Committee less than a week after it was sprung on her, another participant reported.
"I asked them what it would take to make the thing acceptable," Rep. Gene Taylor (R-Mo.) said. "There's a provision in there that employes can request a leave of absence to run for office. They can request it, you don't necessarily have to give it. That seems to be a big hang-up. So I asked, what about striking that provision?"
Then Taylor said he asked what participants would think if the revision "eliminated the sensitive agencies like the IRS and the FBI."
"They scratched around for another objection," he said.
"But the fact is," Taylor added, "they heard us out and they're not closing the door. They might come up with something."