FTN - 6/10/01

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BOB SCHIEFFER: The Democrats officially took control of the Senate last week. What's next now that they're in charge? What will happen to the president's agenda? We'll ask the new majority leader Tom Daschle.

And then there's John McCain. What is the maverick Republican senator from Arizona really up to? We'll ask him.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on free speech. But first, the changing of the guard, on Face the Nation.

Good morning again.

Joining us from the studio, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. With us in Cottonwood, Arizona, John McCain. We begin with Senator Daschle.

Senator Daschle, you said, and there's a headline on the op-ed page of the New York Times today that says "A New Deal for the Senate." And you're quoted as saying "I believe the only way to go forward is to embrace a spirit of principled compromise."

But just yesterday in The Washington Post, here's an article with a headline that says "Daschle, No More Give on Patient Rights."

So will the real Senator Daschle please stand up?

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, D-SD, Majority Leader: Absolutely, Bob. I would say that the patients' bill of rights is a case study on compromise. Four years ago the Democrats fashioned a bill that we thought had almost strong support then, almost unanimous Democratic support. We compromised with Republicans about two years ago on that. We compromised again just about a year ago. And there's no better example of that compromise and leadership in that regard than John McCain, who you'll be talking to next.

I'm willing to talk some more. I just don't want to water the bill down to a point where it's absolutely meaningless at some point in the future.

But are we willing to talk? Of course. Are we willing to find ways in which to compromise? Perhaps. But we've compromised a lot so far. I just hope we can keep it meaningful.

SCHIEFFER: Well, the bill, even people at the White House are saying it looks like that you're pretty close now. The main difference now is whether you allow people to sue in federal court, which is what the White House wants to do, or allow them to sue in state courts. What's the difference in that?

DASCHLE: Well, it is interesting. This is a bill that was almost identically passed in Texas just not too long ago. So this has worked in Texas, obviously. I think the big difference is - and, again, we would compromise, we have compromised on that.

What we've said is that administrative action should be at the federal level. Judicial and medical review action should be at the state level.

Here you've got Republicans arguing that the federal government knows better, that the federal government ought to dictate to the states what ought to be done. What we say is what works in the states ought to be adhered to, ought to be accepted, ought to be respected.

But, again, I'm hopeful that we can find somcommon ground there.

SCHIEFFER: Well, there is one little development this morning. It's my understanding that Andy Card, the White House chief of staff said that the president at this point would veto the patients' bill of rights legislation in its current form, which of course, in its current form, allows people to sue in state courts.

Is that what you meant when you said there is an identical bill that passed in Texas that the president signed?

DASCHLE: Correctly, Bob. They would be vetoing a bill that is current law in Texas. And so, I'm disappointed with that kind of rhetoric. We don't need veto threats right now. What we need are ways in which to find that common ground that we're looking for.

We want to do something that should have been done a long time ago: Make sure that people have the right to choose their own doctor, make sure that they have the ability for continuity of care, make sure that the insurance companies are kept to insurance and not to medicine. That's in essence what this bill does. And as I say, we'll talk to anybody.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Let's talk a little bit about energy, which is another big issue on the table. Some Democrats are now saying that they would like to pass a bill to cap California's energy prices, its electricity prices . If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn't act first, would you support those temporary price caps in California?

DASCHLE: Well, Gloria, I think it is - you've stated perfectly what we should do. What we should do first is to assure that the FERC, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lives up to its responsibilities. They haven't done that. I think what we ought to do is pass the Feinstein bill which says to FERC, "Look, do what you're supposed to do. Come in and regulate this in a way that allows adequate supply" and that, I think, is the essence of what ought to be done right now. If all that fails, of course we have to look at other options.

BORGER: Do you think that if you passed a bill that you would have a veto-proof majority on that?

DASCHLE: That's a good question. I'm not sure we'd know today whether it'd be veto-proof or not.

I do know this: I have been in California the last couple of weeks on occasion. And I have to say, I don't know of any issue out there that's more troubling to people in that part of the country. We've got to find a way to address this concern. The lack of willingness to be engaged by this administration is just inexcusable.

BORGER: Well, you had dinner with the president. Did you talk to the president at all about California's problems?

DASCHLE: We talked generally about energy and, to a certain extent, about the waiver having to do with the current situation facing gasoline in California. But we didn't get into a lot of specifics.

SCHIEFFER: I want to go back to this, these price cas. As Gloria pointed out, you have said this is not a panacea. But if FERC, if the energy regulatory agency does not do something in the meantime in between time, don't you just almost have to do that as a short-term solution?

DASCHLE: Well, Bob, I don't think you probably have much choice at that point. But I do think that we've got to force FERC to do its job. That's what they're there for. Why have a FERC if it doesn't do its job in crisis like this? But certainly, if that fails, I really don't know if there's much other choice.

SCHIEFFER: But then to pass some kind of price caps on electricity prices.

DASCHLE: Exactly. Absolutely, absolutely.

BORGER: Senator, there's a lot of talk that Democrats are going to revisit this tax cut at some unspecified point in the future. What are you waiting for? Why not do it now?

DASCHLE: Well, the ink is hardly dry, Gloria. And I don't know that it would make much difference today. The votes wouldn't be there today. We know that there was a majority of senators and House members who voted for this bill. And I also don't know that we have allowed it to shake down enough yet.

I'm convinced that when this does shake down, you're going to see ramifications in our economy and in the budget that people are just going to be very concerned about. But I think it's probably too early to do that.

BORGER: But you did have 12 Democrats in the Senate who voted for the president's tax cut.

DASCHLE: Absolutely, and I respect their right to make that decision. And we have to move on. I'm not going to hold anybody at fault here.

I think what we've got to do now is recognize that we're in this situation. We've got to address it as openly and meaningfully and as intelligently as we can. I just think it's going to be a lot more complicated with much more profound impact on the economy and the budget than most people are willing to accept today.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about the president's trip to Europe. He leaves tomorrow. A lot of people thought in the beginning this was just going to be some sort of a victory tour for the new president, to sort of tour around and introduce himself to European leaders.

But now it seems to be more of a - it seems fairly crucial. Europeans have been very critical of the president, especially on his environmental policy. There's a lot of criticism about his proposing a missile defense system.

What do you think the president ought to do on this trip? What should his priorities be, and how do you think he is going to be received?

DASCHLE: Well, Bob, I think he's got a major, major challenge ahead of him. As you say, both on missile defense as well as on global warming, you've got allies, our best friends now, who are becoming more and more alienated, who are more and more concerned about the direction of U.S. policy.

So I think he's got to ssure them. And I think he's got - more than talk to them, I think he ought to listen to them. I think he needs to hear their concerns because they're real. And I think it could have a profound effect on our relationships for some time to come.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what about this whole business of global warming? The White House seems to be reevaluating its position. It has said it would not abide by the Kyoto Accords, and in some ways that is not really surprising. But now the White House does seem to be recognizing that there is a global warming threat. What can the president tell people in Europe about that?

DASCHLE: Well, what I understand he's going to tell them is that he's for more research, but he's still not for some mandatory reduction. And I think they're not going to take kindly to that message.

I think that we've got to recognize that - and if we're going to be serious, we've got to entertain some way of dealing with this issue in a mandatory, rather than voluntary, way. We've tried the all voluntary options. They've all failed. We know what we've got to do.

So I would be very careful if I were in his position as he enunciates the U.S. position, because I think it would be harmful for that relationship if he were too adamant, too dogmatic about approaching the way we have approached it in the last several months.

BORGER: Same with missile defense?

DASCHLE: Same with missile defense. I think we've got to be conciliatory. I think we have to recognize that these are major issues that have to be resolved, perhaps with less public attention, with less public display of difference, and see if there aren't ways with which to reach some common ground here.

BORGER: Senator, one of your Democratic colleagues in the Senate, Senator Torricelli of New Jersey, is being investigated by the Justice Department. He says that the department, which is now controlled by the Republicans, is out to get him.

Do you think that this investigation of Senator Torricelli is politically motivated?

DASCHLE: Well, I know this: I think the leaks are atrocious, Gloria. They're inexcusable. They shouldn't happen. Any time have you as sensitive an investigation as this is to be played out in the papers and in the networks of the country is just not right. That's not good and fair justice, and I think it ought to be stopped.

BORGER: If Senator Torricelli is indicted, should he resign from the Senate?

DASCHLE: Well, that's not going to happen. I think Bob Torricelli has said as unequivocally as he can he's innocent of these charges. I can't imagine that that would happen.

BORGER: Well, it would also flip the control of the Senate, we should point out, if he did that.

So you think there is no way that he would resign if he were indicted, you would not encourage him to do so?

DASCHLE: I would be amazed if he did.

SCHIEFER: Finally, Senator, there are still some details to be worked out with the Republicans about the make-up of the committees and so forth in the Senate. You now have control. How do you find the state of those negotiations right now? Do you think it'll all be worked out this week?

DASCHLE: I do, Bob. We've had good negotiations with the five senators that Senator Lott appointed. I have given them time to work out among themselves their ideas for how we might address some of the concerns that they have. I'm told I'll get a response tomorrow. We're ready to go to work. I think we'll do it, we'll pass the resolution this week.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Daschle, the new majority leader in the Senate, thanks so much for coming by. Hope to see you again real soon.

And when we come back, we'll talk with Arizona Senator John McCain, in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And with us now from Cottonwood, Arizona, Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain, thank you for coming this morning.

SEN JOHN MCCAIN, R-AZ: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: I want to pick up on what Senator Daschle was talking about, and that is on the patients' bill of rights legislation. The bill that Senator Daschle will bring to the floor, you will be one of the co-sponsors of it. Now, this week the president's legislative director came by your office to talk to you about this after your dinner this week with the president.

Do you feel that you're making any progress in bringing the White House to the position that you now have on this legislation?

MCCAIN: I think we're making significant progress. We have serious negotiations going on, and they'll continue next week.

Bob, this legislation has been bandied about now for a number of years. We all know that, as Daschle pointed out, areas that need to be addressed, such as physicians making the decisions about patients' health rather than accountants, and we're in agreement on most of those issues.

And it's obvious that we need to address the issues and move on, as we have on others in the past.

But there's a lot of very fierce opposition on both sides to seeing this legislation passed, but I think we can overcome it.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, one of the things I brought up to Senator Daschle, as you heard, is that one of the major hang-ups seems to be that the president wants a bill where, if patients sue, they can go into federal court to do it. The bill that you back allows patients to go into state court.

Now, I would guess, to people who don't follow this very closely, that would seem like a minor thing. Is it a minor thing?

MCCAIN: I think it can be resolved, but one, that is the same terms as the bill that was passed in Texas. And also, Chief Justice Rehnquist on several occasions has come out and strongly criticizing the Congress for passing laws that drive everything into federal courtsand the federal courts are very badly clogged up.

And so, we have made a compromise in that contractual disputes and other administrative disputes would remain in federal courts, whereas the others, such as denial or delay of medical treatment, would go to the state courts.

I believe that we should not allow this aspect of a patients' bill of rights to impede us or prevent us from coming to some reasonable resolution, because the other issues that we're in agreement on are far more important to average citizens.

Since the passage of the Texas bill, I believe that there's been like 10 cases in court, and I think, with all the other provisions, we can prevent most of these cases from having to go to either court.

SCHIEFFER: Well, as you heard me tell Senator Daschle this morning, apparently the White House chief of staff Andy Card has said the president will veto this bill in its current form. And I assume one of the major objections they have is this business about whether you go to federal or to state court.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, I didn't see Andy Card's statement, but certainly my meeting with Josh Bolten and Secretary Tommy Thompson was a good meeting with a commitment to negotiate and move forward. And I think we should do that.

And by the way, I'd love to see it the same way we did the campaign finance reform bill. A week or two of amendments, open debate and final votes. I think the American people deserve that on an issue of this importance.

BORGER: Very quickly, do you think it would be a political mistake for President Bush to veto a patients' bill of rights?

MCCAIN: Yes, I think so, but, in other words, I think most any piece of legislation that's important to the American people, we don't want the president to have to veto. But I really think we can avoid that outcome.

BORGER: In your dinner with the president this past week, did you get a commitment from him that he would not veto campaign finance reform?

MCCAIN: No, we didn't discuss that issue. I did not get that commitment, no. Nor did I seek it.

BORGER: That is your other big issue, which seems to now be running into some problems in the House of Representatives, some from liberal Democrats, for example.

What if the Republican leadership over there works with liberal Democrats to form a coalition to defeat campaign finance reform?

MCCAIN: Well, they're obviously trying that, and they are delaying addressing the issue, the Republican leadership in the House.

I hope we can get it done in July. I think there is sufficient pressure. Speaker-to-be or would-be-Speaker Denny Hastert has said that there would be an open and thorough ventilation and amendments on the floor. Minority Leader Gephardt has said - the Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt, has said that he will do everything in his power to see that it gets done.

And so I think with Speaker Gephardt and - Deocrat leader Gephardt, excuse me, Hastert...

SCHIEFFER: Do you want to start over on this?

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Speaker Hastert.

MCCAIN: With Denny Hastert, Speaker Denny Hastert and Democrat leader Dick Gephardt both committed to at least a complete addressing of the issue, I think we've got a pretty good shot at it.

And I'm sorry I fractured and mangled that syntax.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let's go back and talk about this dinner you had with the president, because there are all kinds of stories going about town that you can't stand the president, the president can't stand you, that you're trying to torpedo his program, that he is trying to undercut you.

What is the state of your relations with this White House and with this president at this particular point in time?

MCCAIN: The president and I have a very cordial relationship. I campaigned with him in the campaign after the nomination period was over. We have a very cordial relationship. Cindy and Laura have a very good relationship. She is a wonderful person. And, I mean, any thoughts or comments to the contrary are simply not true.

Do we have differences on some specific issues? Yes, just as we did during the campaign. But I want to work with the president and will work with him on reforming Social Security, on restructuring the military, on elimination of wasteful spending, on a broad variety of foreign policy issues. And I know the majority of the issues that he and I feel are important, we're in agreement on.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you also about your intentions at this point in time, because there were all these stories that you were thinking about leaving the party to become an independent. The answers you gave, you said, "I have no intention" - you used the word "intention" - "of doing that." You use phrases like, "Why would I want to do that now," which has gotten people to say, well, maybe he is planning on it later.

Tell us exactly where you are on all of this?

MCCAIN: Exactly I have no intention nor cause to leave the Republican Party. I love the Republican Party, and it's my home. And I can't be anymore specific than that.

And there was never - I repeat, never - any discussions between me and anyone, much less my advisers, as to scenarios or mentioning of me either switching parties or running for president of the United States, period.

SCHIEFFER: And what about, could you change your mind later?

MCCAIN: If Mars and Venus collided, you know, I think there's that remote possibility. But again, I have no intention of leaving the Republican Party nor do I have a cause to.

SCHIEFFER: And quickly, about the president's trip to Europe. What should he be telling our allies? What can he expect there?

MCCAIN: I think he is going to meet governments and leaders of government that are left of center, and our govenment is to the right of center here in the United States of America. I think he will and should stress the importance of the Atlantic alliance, our fundamental cultural, political and economic ties, the importance of us working together.

We have American troops in Bosnia and Kosovo. There are still threats to the security of Europe and the United States. And I would really emphasize the thematic aspects of the importance of our relationship. And then we can work out details.

Look, we had great differences with the Europeans in the '80s over the cruise and Pershing missiles deployments. There has been a number of times where there have been disagreements. But we cannot ignore the fundamental critical importance of our relationship and our alliances.

BORGER: I'd like to just change the subject for a moment to energy policy. You heard Senator Daschle talk about the possibility of capping energy prices in California. Is that something that you would be interested in signing onto at some point?

MCCAIN: I would not. And I believe that there is some glimmer of hope out there. There is some recent reductions in the cost of gasoline and some other hopeful aspects, within a year or two that we'll have a greater refining and distribution capability.

But, no, I would not support at this time price caps on gas.

BORGER: Or electricity?

MCCAIN: You know, "temporary" is an interesting word.

I mean, excuse me - or electricity.

You know, it's interesting, the word "temporary." We've still got a telephone tax that was laid on in order to pay for the Spanish-American War. So I'm always curious when you talk about temporary government measures, particularly when they have to do with regulation of markets.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator McCain, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Hope to see you again soon.

And we'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, this summer marks some important anniversaries for free speech that should not go unremarked.

It was 30 years ago this week that the Supreme Court told the Nixon administration it could not stop the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. To rule otherwise, the court said, would give the government the ability to block, or at least delay, publication of anything it found offensive or even unflattering.

A month later, Harley Staggers, the Democratic chairman of the House committee ordered CBS News to turn over film clips it had not used in a documentary called "The Selling of the Pentagon." Staggers said that was the only way he could determine if the documentary had been fairly edited.

Frank Stanton, the president of the CBS News, said he would go to jail before he would comply with Staggers subpoenas and allow the government to go rootng around in reporters' desks. The House of Representatives agreed, turned on one of its most senior chairmen, and backed Stanton.

I thought of all this as I was reading how one of the first actions the government of Nepal may take in the wake of those brutal murders of its royal family is to court martial a witness to the shooting who gave an unauthorized account of how it happened.

In America, of course, such shenanigans couldn't happen, thanks, in part, to the courage of people like Frank Stanton and Arthur Sultzberger, the Times publisher in the Pentagon Papers era.

My great teacher, Eric Sevareid, once told me, "Always remember, freedom of speech is the one freedom we need to defend all of the others." That's really all I need to know about it.

Thanks for watching. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.



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