Democrats Slam GOP on Disaster Relief

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Once again the GOP has poked itself in the eye, and Trent Lott is sounding the retreat. Democrats hit the GOP hard for holding up flood disaster relief, staging a late-night vigil Tuesday in Tom Daschle's office and telling flood victims in the Northern Plains that Republicans are holding relief efforts hostage to pork and unrelated provisions such as new rules for future government shutdowns.TIME's Karen Tumulty reports the tactic, combined with Republican bumbling, appears to be paying off. "This is starting to look like a repeat of the government shutdown, only on a much smaller scale. Once again, it's a situation where Republicans thought they could back Clinton (and his allies) into a corner and instead they find that that's where they are." As a result, Lott is now trying to split the difference, proposing a revised bill free of the add-ons, but holding back more than half of the aid for another round of debate on the add-ons. Daschle says that's not good enough, noting that committees had already agreed on $7.6 billion for emergency needs. GOP leaders are not ready to accept the compromise proposed by Republican Senator Rod Grams of Minnesota, who suggests that Senators vote on the full $7.6 billion package, and vote separately on the shut-down provision. Given the beating the GOP has taken in the PR war thus far, it appears the White House and congressional Democrats can afford to wait them out.