Bush Presses Fight On Intel Bill

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President Bush made yet another push for passage of the intelligence reform bill Monday, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer.

"I call upon the Congress to pass the intelligence bill," Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House. "It's a good piece of legislation. It is a necessary piece of legislation. It's a piece of legislation that is important for the security of our country."

Mr. Bush said he was working with key members of Congress to address the concerns "of the majority of the members of both the House and the Senate."

Passage of the bill to overhaul the intelligence community by creating a national intelligence director has been held back by objections by some House Republicans.

Congressional Democrats say there are enough votes to push the bill through this week if Republicans will allow a vote.

"If the bill isn't passed this week, it dies," Rep. Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday. But "if it's put up for a vote in both houses, it will pass with bipartisan majority."

But Republicans say objections from House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., have held up the bill and could force the issue to wait until next year.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., refused to bring the bill to a vote before Thanksgiving because of their objections and has yet to reveal his plans.

Even Republicans said the bill could pass despite opposition from the GOP holdouts. "I hope we can change their minds," said Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "If it came to a vote, it would pass the House."

Roberts, R-Kan., supports the bill and said opponents allied with the Pentagon should put national security first.

"They have to understand something, the primary user of intelligence is not the military. ... It is the president of the United States and the National Security Council and it is the Congress of the United States," Roberts said on CBS News Face the Nation.

While they are working on that, Hastert will decide whether to force a House vote on creating a national intelligence director position to coordinate the nation's spy agencies and enacting other anti-terror measures. If the House passes the bill, the Senate will reconvene to do the same.

Hunter has expressed concerns the intelligence realignment could interfere with the military's chain of command. He wants the bill to ensure that the Pentagon retains direct control over the agencies that operate the nation's spy satellites and analyze that information for troops on the battlefield.

The bill's supporters say it would not interfere with those operations.

Sensenbrenner wants the bill to address illegal immigration and what he sees as loopholes in the system.

But President Bush, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and the members of the Sept. 11 investigative commission have endorsed the intelligence bill.

Mr. Bush telephoned House and Senate lawmakers and used his weekly radio address Saturday to press Congress to pass the bill.

Democrats put the blame on the speaker and the president for not getting House Republicans in line.

"Every day we delay our country is less safe," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said on "Fox News Sunday." "Speaker Hastert knows that. The president knows that. They just haven't convinced all of the Republicans."

"The president, who controls both houses of Congress, should use his power," incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada added on NBC's "Meet the Press."

If lawmakers fail to pass an overhaul this year, they'll have to start from scratch next year. With the new Congress in January, bills that failed to pass in the current session expire and new lawmakers and committee leaders would have to consider any new legislation.