Bipartisanship call praised but difficulties seen

January 30, 2002|By JENNIFER SARANOW, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — The Imperial Valley's representatives in Congress praised President Bush's call Tuesday night for bipartisanship in considering legislation this year, but said they doubt it will occur in all issues, particularly those regarding the Imperial Valley.

"I think there's going to be good bipartisanship in a number of areas," said Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican who represents the 52nd District, in which the Valley is located. "You will see both parties supporting national defense because we're in a war, as well as education and issues of border security. But the tax area is going to be difficult to reach an agreement with a number of tax stimulus packages proposed."

Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat who will run for the seat representing the Imperial Valley in the next election because of redrawing of congressional districts, said his party has been working for five years to achieve agreements in exactly the issues the president mentioned, such as health care, education, jobs and unemployment benefits, but it is the Republican Party that is avoiding cooperation.


"The president's words were great, but will we see the actions?" Filner asked. "I hope we will, but I know the folks of the other party in the House and they at least do not act with the minority. I'm going to put my hand out again and hope it is taken but I have not seen anything like that since 1994."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, agreed. "I look forward in the coming months to working with the Bush administration to develop plans that make sense, that are fiscally responsible and that benefit the American people," she said, adding "on the domestic front, the devil is in the details. I wish that President Bush had prioritized his proposals and given some details."

Filner said the details behind the general implications of Bush's speech will be evident when he releases his budget next week, which will be when most partisan fights will occur. Specifically, Filner said he is concerned about how much money in the Immigration and Naturalization Service budget will actually go to inspections along the southern border and how much will be allocated to highway construction and other such programs that could create jobs.

"When more money goes into expensive missile defense, there is less money for health care, education, veterans, etc.," Filner said. "It doesn't seem like the president's priorities have changed. He's just more popular because of the war."

Hunter, however, said some of the policies mentioned by the president could help the Imperial Valley. He said a tax break could help small businesses in the Valley have "a few extra bucks in their pockets to expand their businesses further."

He pointed out the pay raise for the military mentioned by Bush would help those working at Naval Air Facility El Centro.

Overall, however, the representatives said they were impressed with the president's speech.

"I thought he gave an excellent speech tonight focused on the war on terrorism and stimulus to get the economy moving inspired the American people very effectively in a personal, not a political way," Hunter said.

"I think that the part of the speech on the war was terrific," Feinstein said.

Filner praised the Bush speech as "a very good speech, which is only appropriate during a war against terrorism, but I could only think as I watched my colleagues on the other side of the room that the president's words did not match the excitement of members of his own party. He was so general, anybody could have said it."

Sen. Barbara Boxer was unavailable for comment.

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