WASHINGTON DESK - Monday night, Tom DeLay(R) the majority whip met with his party to work out a winning strategy for a meeting between speaker, Newt Gingrich(R), Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R) and president Bill Clinton's Erskine Bowles.
On Tuesday, House majority leader Dick Armey(R) said they wanted to impress on Bowles, “We know we’ll be back with an even larger majority in the House and Senate next year,” Army said.
At stake is an omnibus appropriations bill that would encompass many of the bills still stranded, or a short-term continuing resolution that would give negotiators time to hash out their differences.
However, congressional leaders are moving on Friday for adjournment. Conservatives are being pressured by the leadership to give in on appropriations riders like abortion to avoid a likely Clinton veto.
The groundwork is becoming obvious that there will be a Clinton veto over controversial issues like abortion and the environment that will be used as a 'stalking horse' by the White House to rally a disintegrating Democrat Party for a better showing in the November 3rd elections.
In response to GOP leadership style, this week, conservatives are grumbling that they are being compromised on principle, and forced to concede hard won ground on fundamental issues.
At least three conservative priorities are still at issue Friday. These are shaping up as (1) reductions to balance new emergency spending requested by the White House, (2) the vote on a parental abortion notification proposal, and (3)linking Mexico City family-planning language to any International Monetary Fund spending.
Already eroded is the Tom Coburn(R) rider on the
R.U. 486 abortion pill, coerced by leadership objections and the fall off of support for it in the Senate.
Friday, there are closed sessions set to discuss various scenarios for an omnibus package containing wild spending on the Commerce, Justice, State, Labor, Health and Human Services, Interior, District of Columbia, and Foreign Operations appropriations bills. Still uncertain are Treasury, Postal and Transportation spending requested by the Clinton White House.
At issue is a Clinton last minute orchestration to provoke a government shutdown that he can blame on republicans. Tom Delay's spokesperson John Feehery told reporters, “There’s concern that the president is so desperate to change the subject that he will make unrealistic demands, spend the surplus and shut down the government!”
Maybe so. But, conservative members on Wednesday were still threatening to vote against any rules package that would capitulate to last minute cave-ins to the Clinton steam-roller.
By late Thursday, however, most conservatives had moved toward compromise with the leadership agenda to send the president a bill that contains minimal spending limits.