Congressional leaders targeting Oct. 18 adjournment

Congressional leaders are now looking to wrap up their pre- election work Oct. 18, although Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., continues to threaten to keep the Senate in session longer to finish the chamber's work for the year.

A Daschle spokeswoman also said it is "unlikely" the Senate will be in session for the holiday weekend, including Columbus Day. Daschle is pressing for a final vote Thursday on the resolution authorizing military action in Iraq, the spokeswoman said, but that could slip, too. Senate Republicans and Democrats have yet to reach a time agreement for the debate on the Iraq resolution.

After the weekend, the Senate probably will return to Capitol Hill Tuesday and return to other top legislative priorities, including the Homeland Security Department legislation, the fiscal 2003 Defense appropriations bill and what could be a series of continuing resolutions.

The Daschle spokeswoman said the majority leader "would like" to adjourn next week, but adjournment is being driven more by approval of bills than the calendar.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, Tuesday said the question of authorizing force against Iraq, which the House took up today, would dominate the House floor this week, but added the House would interrupt the 20-hour debate to finish up the session's outstanding business.

Armey listed an election reform conference report and a third continuing resolution as likely candidates for floor consideration this week, "and any other conference reports that become available."

Armey called the 2003 Military Construction and Defense appropriations conference reports "the two most likely and necessary ones."

By a voice vote, the House Tuesday passed a structured rule on the Iraq resolution that allows 17 hours of general debate, an hour each for two Democratic substitutes and another hour of debate before a final vote, which Armey expected to conclude Thursday.

Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., said the debate would be as inclusive as the 1991 debate authorizing the Persian Gulf War. "Just as in 1991, every single member will have the right to be heard," Dreier said.

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