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Daschle Slammed For 'Lack Of Leadership'

by Leroy Baker,, New York

14 December 2001

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle came under White House fire earlier this week for obstructing the progress of the stalled economic stimulus bill.

Speaking to USA Today on Wednesday, Karen Hughes, President Bush's counselor hit out at Mr Daschle and the Senate Democrats in general: 'Whether it's a lack of leadership or a lack of intent...there's been a void in the Senate,' she argued, adding that: 'Part of the agenda for next year, if this leadership vacuum continues in the Senate, may be unfinished business that the President and the House were able to focus on...this year but the Senate was unable to get done.'

However, officials in the Democrat Majority Leader's camp were scathing about the accusations of 'obstructionism', arguing that the Senate has passed several bills which were sought by the President, including the authorization of $40 billion in aid for those affected by the September 11th attacks, measures on aviation security, the bailout of the country's airline sector, and counter-terrorism legislation.

'They define leadership as agreeing with everything they say,' explained Anita Dunn, spokeswoman for Mr Daschle, adding that the President's aides have failed to grasp that the essence of bipartisanship is 'working with and respecting the other party, instead of expecting them to roll over.'

The man in question, however, seems cautiously optimistic that progress can be made before the Christmas break, and following a meeting with the President on Wednesday, told the press that: 'We have attempted to negotiate in good faith.' It is hoped that the news that Bush is prepared to compromise on certain tax cuts, reported here on Thursday, may also add impetus to the progress of the stalled legislation.

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