At separate news conferences Monday, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., squared off over what the defense-disaster relief supplemental should include and whether it should be offset.
Lott suggested provisions on the guaranteed student loan program, crop insurance for farmers and agricultural research could be included, and that the additional discretionary--but not defense--spending will be offset. But Daschle opposes discretionary offsets, arguing that it would be "a travesty" to break up the traditional rural-urban coalition on food stamps by separating the crop insurance and research portions of the research conference report from provisions to use savings from food stamp reforms to pay for food stamps for legal immigrants.
Lott is aiming for a Senate vote Thursday.
Lott also said he expects a vote later this week on the State Department reorganization bill, which authorizes back dues payments to the United Nations and prohibits international family planning groups from lobbying foreign governments on abortion.
And he said meetings on the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act reauthorization are on tap between the leadership and the House and Senate Budget committee chairmen on which set of numbers - budget authority, contract authority or outlays--to use and what offsets are available.
Lott also plans meetings on tobacco legislation, which he still hopes to bring to the floor by the end of May.
Lott and Daschle also traded charges on this week's forthcoming Finance Committee hearings on the IRS. Lott said committee Democrats leaked the Treasury Department inspector general's report disputing some allegations made in prior hearings to intimidate witnesses. Daschle said that was not so, and responded that Republicans are using the hearings to intimidate the IRS.