Dems continue to rap Ridge for failure to testify on Hill

Democrats Thursday continued to criticize Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge's refusal to testify formally before Congress on the administration's $38 billion fiscal 2003 homeland security request.

Ridge did meet privately Wednesday with select House appropriators and has another session scheduled for next week.

But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said a private meeting is not good enough.

And a senior Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, said in an interview with CongressDaily that while Bush is "absolutely right" from a constitutional standpoint, "the president would be better off if he just sent [Ridge] up and let him testify."

After Wednesday's meeting, House Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., said: "With perhaps one exception, nothing we discussed today couldn't be discussed in a public session. We appreciate Mr. Ridge speaking with us informally, but it is far from adequate in terms of addressing his budget needs or our responsibilities in reviewing those needs. As far as I'm concerned, some lawyer in the White House is inventing a problem that should not exist."

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