House Members Want More Time

Some House Republicans are considering the possibility of passing a continuing resolution that would last until Nov. 21 in an effort to allow them to work out remaining thorny issues, a House Republican source said Tuesday. "When we look at the dates and where we are and where we have to go, it's looking like that's what's going to have to be," the source said.

Appropriators still have not worked out education testing issues on the Labor-HHS bill, census sampling issues on the Commerce- Justice-State bill, school vouchers on the District of Columbia bill or family planning issues on the Foreign Operations bill.

Despite those roadblocks and the possibility of having to pass another CR, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said today he believes the issues can be resolved in time for the House to adjourn by Nov. 7. He acknowledged the family planning issue may the last to be resolved and that discussions are continuing on the census language. He took a hard line on school vouchers, saying he is "perfectly willing" to have the funding bill stall and fund the D.C. government through a CR rather than drop the voucher language from the bill.

Armey said Republicans are "looking at some options" for solving the testing issue. House Education and the Workforce Chairman Bill Goodling, R-Pa., said he thought many Republicans were now supporting his plan to let the nation's governors, state legislators and the National Academy of Sciences investigate if existing tests can be adopted for national use. However, the source said no deal has been reached and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., told CongressDaily he thinks any deal that was close last week has "disintegrated."

Meanwhile, Armey reiterated that he does not want to send fast track trade negotiating authority legislation to the floor without the votes to pass it, but left open the possibility he might schedule the bill in an effort to force undecided Democrats to declare a position.

"We're all sitting around waiting for the President" to find the Democratic votes, Armey said, adding that so-called New Democrats are fighting more traditional Democrats over the issue. "I get a kick out of watching it," he said. Armey estimated 150 House Republicans are willing to support fast track.

Armey also said the fate of Amtrak legislation remains uncertain and will take additional negotiations, since many Republicans feel strongly about severance pay issues. Armey noted that the future of grazing legislation is now mixed up with political dynamics of the Amtrak bill. He said even if the House does not consider broad Amtrak legislation this year, GOP leaders will have to look "very strongly" at passing legislation delaying any Amtrak strike until Congress returns next year.

Armey said he expects IRS reform legislation on the floor next week, but said it is still not clear whether campaign finance reform will come to the floor this year.

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