Morning Political Note: Jan. 24

The Washington Times notes, "Some Republicans said Mr. Daschle came back to the bargaining table because he was feeling pressure to act before Mr. Bush delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday. 'The sense is, the speeches from Senator Daschle and Senator [Edward M.] Kennedy have put them in a very bad political position,' said a Senate Republican aide. 'They'd like to get this monkey off their back as soon as possible.'" ( )

Roll Call adds that "Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) appeared to emerge from the White House meeting more encouraged by any sign of possible progress on the economic stimulus front … But National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said he was not at all impressed by Daschle's slimmed-down stimulus proposal. 'He has the votes to pass real stimulus now,' Davis said. 'I think he is just trying to delay.'" ( )

Meanwhile, companion stories in most papers cover Democrats' cautious and pretty scant (so far) reactions to Bush's push for more defense spending. The Los Angeles Times reports, "Even Democrats who have been critical of Bush for allowing deficits to blossom did not speak ill of his defense proposal, even if they did not immediately endorse it either. 'Our top priority is to defend the nation,' said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. 'We will provide the resources to do it.' But he warned that there would be no 'blank check' for defense. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said it was too early to say how much Congress would provide for defense, adding, 'We recognize we're fighting a war on terrorism.'" ( )

The Washington Post writes, "Top Senate Democrats said the huge request will meet heavy skepticism, particularly at a time when the government has returned to budget deficits. Earlier in the day, Bush had brought up a sensitive issue that hangs over the 2002 elections when he assured congressional leaders, 'I have no ambition to use the war as a political issue.'" ( )

From the Boston Globe: "Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who last week called for delaying part of the president's $1.35 trillion tax cut package, yesterday said he would review the president's defense request as a member of the Armed Services Committee. 'Clearly, ensuring that our military has the necessary resources to fight the war on terrorism and to protect against future attacks is a top priority for all of us in Congress,' he said, adding that he hoped Bush would 'give high priority to the urgent challenges we face at home as well.'" ( )

Roll Call throws out another possible task for Daschle: consolidating the proliferating committee invetigations into Enron. ( )

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