The Memorial Day break apparently did little to resolve the difficult issues blocking final passage of the disaster relief supplemental bill.
Key senators today said the two thorniest issues -- the automatic continuing resolution and a provision blocking sampling in the 2000 census -- have not been settled. And it remains unclear how or if those issues can be settled before the legislation is sent to President Clinton.
"At this point, I'm pessimistic about getting a conference report this week, but stranger things have happened," Senate Minority Leader Daschle told reporters.
Conferees are tentatively scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Lott told CongressDaily nothing has changed regarding Republican determination to send Clinton a supplemental bill with the provision establishing an automatic CR, that would continue spending even if appropriations measures are not completed by the start of the fiscal year.
Clinton has threatened to veto the legislation over that provision. "We'll either get something worked out or he'll have to live with it," said Lott, who has made clear he is willing to defy Clinton on the issue.
Lott said he is not sure what the next step is if Clinton vetoes the bill. But some have speculated Republicans might strip out the CR language and pass the supplemental bill alone.
On the census issue, Republicans want to send Clinton a supplemental bill that prohibits sampling in the 2000 census. Daschle said he is more pessimistic about the conferees' ability to solve that problem than he is about the CR issue. House Appropriations Chairman Livingston last week hinted the census issue could be stripped out of the supplemental and passed later.