Dems plan to stall electoral tally

Florida Democrats prepare a procedural motion that could delay Saturday's counting of electoral votes.

Published January 5, 2001 1:23PM (EST)

As the electoral votes are tallied in Congress Saturday, Florida Democrats are planning a procedural move to demonstrate their displeasure with the Florida election.

Tomorrow's ceremonial opening of the electoral ballots are, at this point, a formality. The results will show President-elect George W. Bush with 271-267 lead over Vice President Al Gore. A group of Democrats were trying to organize a campaign to challenge Florida's 25 electors, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

But Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Fla., says the procedural motion is not just sour grapes. The Republican leadership has apparently told its membership that attendance at tomorrow's session is not mandatory. But Deutsch plans a quorum call to make sure members are present.

"Our country just witnessed the closest and most controversial Presidential election in our nation's history," he said in a statement. "We as members of Congress have an obligation to be present to count the Electoral College's votes and declare the next President of the United States."

The move is just the beginning of protests over the new administration. Rev. Jesse Jackson and other African-American leaders are planning a series of protests of what they feel were conscious Republican efforts to disenfranchise black voters in Florida.
[Anthony York, 2:20 p.m. PST]

McCain readies for battle

George W. Bush beat Al Gore, but the president-elect's other foes are still spoiling for a fight.

Bush's Republican-primary rival, Sen. John McCain, is recruiting reinforcements for his campaign finance reform crusade. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., once a reliable anti-reform vote, has announced that he will now back the McCain-Feingold campaign finance plan. Reform opponents fear that others will echo Cochran's defection, tipping the power in favor of changing the campaign finance system.

Though Bush would just as soon let McCain-Feingold slip through the congressional cracks, he's holding tight to his tax cut plan. Instead of heeding the warnings from members of his own party to go slow on his proposed $1.3 billion in cuts, Bush emerged from a meeting with high-tech industry leaders on Thursday insisting that his pet proposal be put on a fast track.

The president-elect also expressed confidence that his Cabinet choices will sail through confirmation. And, in the case of Donald Evans, his choice for commerce secretary, Bush appears to be right. But attorney general nominee John Ashcroft and would-be interior chief Gale Norton should expect tougher roads to confirmation.

Developers should expect no roads at all in the 60 million acres of forests that President Clinton has just put off limits to them. The move, one of a flurry of parting punches from the not-so-lame-duck president, has cheered environmentalists and angered members of the timber industry.

Republicans aren't happy about it either. In fact, Bush is reportedly fed up with Clinton's last-minute maneuvers, which have included signing a treaty to create a world court, resubmitting federal judicial nominees and mandating additional workplace health regulations for federal offices. Perhaps Bush's Clinton fatigue is part of why he is leaving early for a weekend rest at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Some powerful House Republicans aren't too thrilled to be leaving their posts sooner than they had planned. The party leadership has ousted some veteran committee chairmen, in keeping with a promise made in the 1994 "Contract With America" to limit terms. Some Capitol Hill observers believe the move led to the surprise resignation of Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., who lost his post as chief of the powerful House Transportation Committee.
-- Alicia Montgomery [7 a.m. PST, Jan. 5, 2001]

By Salon Staff

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