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Congress wrangling over airline security bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Warning that terrorists are "watching with as much interest as the rest of the world," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., accused Republicans Thursday of delaying action on a bill to make air travel more secure.

"Our Republican colleagues have clearly chosen an obstructionist approach here," Daschle told reporters. "The longer we wait, the more we invite further difficulty, the more we invite the possibility that some other occurrence might cause our country to experience situations that we ought to do everything we can to avoid."

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Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, shot back: "Shame on Tom. This is called getting it right and Tom, the president has demonstrated patience, the American people have demonstrated patience and you should, too."

Daschle wanted to vote on the airline security bill Thursday, but Republicans objected because they said Democrats were adding extraneous issues.

Specifically, Democrats want to include aid to laid-off airline workers in the bill.

There also is strong disagreement about whether airline security workers should be employees of the federal government. Most Democrats want baggage checkers to be federal employees, but conservative Republicans object to this, saying this could lead to unnecessary bureaucracy, and the private sector would be more efficient.

Some Republicans said privately the impasse over the airline security legislation is partly because of a lack of guidance from the White House.

Senate Minority leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. acknowledged those concerns.

"Earlier and more complete communication with the White House on this issue would've been helpful," said Lott.


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