From: Candy Crowley/CNN Capitol Hill Correspondent
In: Washington, D.C.
Subject: Daschle chides GOP on Chemical Weapons treaty; calls flooding worst disaster in Dakotas' history
Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) says this week's vote on ratification of the Chemical Weapons Treaty will show whether his Republican counterparts want to be "part of the international community..[or]...totally consumed by internal right-wing domestic politics."
Daschle said the treaty, which bans the production and use of Chemical Weaponry by signees has "extraordinary consequence," and warned the GOP to be "very, very careful."
The treaty must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Both sides say the outcome is uncertain because so many Republicans have not publicly declared their positions. A ten-hour debate on the treaty is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST.
During his daily chat with reporters, Daschle also said reports on the damage to his home state of South Dakota and on neighboring North Dakota "can't really do justice ... to the extraordinary loss." Daschle estimates cattle losses at 200,000 head and property damage "perhaps" exceeding $1 billion.
"It is," Daschle said, "without any comparison in history in South and North Dakota."
Daschle assessed as "absolutely nil" chances that the nomination of Alexis Herman to be Labor Secretary will be brought to the Senate Floor this week. Daschle described the delay as a GOP attempt to hold Herman "hostage to a federal contracting matter."
On budget matters, Daschle said no agreement can be reached unless Republicans back off their "impractical, unsupportable" demand for $200 billion worth of tax breaks. Over the weekend, Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he could see tax breaks in the $135-billion range. Daschle today responded the country could only afford a tax cut in the two-digit range.
As for Medicare savings, Daschle said he could support nothing higher than the $100 billion figure now under discussion.
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