GOP Sets Priorities

Senate Republicans have decided on the first 10 bills they will introduce, the first of which will be an education initiative.

The decisions came late last week during a two-day Senate GOP retreat at the Library of Congress. The other bills, in order, are a drugs and crime measure; a workers and families rights bill dealing with comp time and flex time; tax cut legislation; a missile defense bill; partial birth abortion legislation; a Superfund reform bill; a "workers political freedom" measure that is believed to deal with the use of union dues for political purposes; a product liability bill; and, finally, a juvenile justice bill, a GOP source said.

The first resolution to be offered by Senate Republicans will be on the balanced budget constitutional amendment and the second will be a call to double the amount of federal funds spent on research, the source said. In addition, the BBA will be debated on the Senate floor Feb. 3 or 4, but the vote will not occur until after the President's Day recess later that month, the source said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga. -- whom Senate Majority Leader Lott last week said would become head of the Senate GOP Health Care Task Force -- will lead the party's education group instead, a Republican source said today, adding that Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, will head the healthcare task force. The change apparently was made at last week's GOP retreat.

The source said other Senate GOP task force leaders will include: Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri on workplace issues; Majority Whip Nickles on campaign reform; Republican Policy Committee Chairman Larry Craig of Idaho on environment; Judiciary Chairman Hatch and Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington on judicial nominations; and Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire on retirement issues.

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