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Senate leader offers compromise on homeland security spending

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., today offered to cut in half a $15 billion package of new spending for homeland security championed by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Byrd, D-W.Va., and attach it to the fiscal 2002 Defense appropriations bill rather than an economic stimulus measure. The move could help in the effort to break an impasse on an economic stimulus bill.

Minority Whip Don Nickles, R-Okla., responded to Daschle's offer by saying, "I'm glad it's off the stimulus," but said, "I don't think we should go the additional $7.5 [billion]." Nickles said appropriators should honor the agreement they reached with President Bush on an overall spending figure.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., called the development "an important breakthrough," but Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., was less excited. "I think it's outrageous," Gregg said of Daschle's offer. "It violates the agreement reached in October with the president."

President Bush today sharpened his rhetoric on the stimulus package, but did not address Daschle's proposed compromise. In an appearance in Washington before a Farm Journal forum, Bush implored the Senate to act, warning that the delay is causing job losses.

"Let's move, let's get the job done," Bush said.

The President said 415,000 jobs had been lost "in the time that we have been waiting" for a bill. "Further delay could put more Americans and families at risk," Bush said.