Two leading House Republicans criticized President Clinton's offer of conditional clemency to 16 members of a Puerto Rican independence group involved in bomb attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.
House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) accused the president of putting politics before the interests of the country. He said the House might consider a resolution of disapproval.
But Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D) of New York, where the clemency offer has been hotly debated, dismissed claims that Clinton was trying to win support among New York's Puerto Rican voters for Hillary Rodham Clinton's probable Senate run.
"I don't think that makes sense," Schumer said, noting that while law enforcement officials say the clemency offer goes too far, Puerto Rican leaders in New York say it doesn't go far enough. "I don't think this was intended to help Hillary Clinton."
The 16 members of FALN, a Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation, are expected to respond soon to the White House clemency offer. It requires that they offer signed requests for commutation and renounce violence.
The 11 men and five women were not involved in attacks that killed people. FALN carried out 130 bomb attacks on civilian and military targets from 1974 to 1983 that killed six people and wounded dozens.
Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who appeared with Armey and Schumer on NBC's "Meet the Press," said most members of Congress would oppose clemency. "This sends the wrong signal to terrorists around the world," Burton said.