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September 17, 2001
Important Bills on Hold
So
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long, for now, anyway, to the Patient's Bill of Rights.

Likewise for just about any other legislation that doesn't have to do with addressing the terror attacks last week on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In keeping with the bipartisanship that for now has replaced the rising crescendo of sniping between the parties, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said, "No one should doubt that we will furnish the resources necessary to defend the nation, rebuild the damage and retaliate against our enemies."

The clear implication, according to the Washington Post, is that billions will be added to bolster the military, improve intelligence operations, and help New York City and the Washington area deal with the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

It also means that a variety of controversial issues that had crowded the congressional agenda will be delayed.

Medicare drug benefits, the competing patient rights passed by the House and Senate this summer, and other measures may all be left to slide until next year, the Post reports.

The change in the political climate on Capitol Hill was symbolized Wednesday by House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) standing shoulder to shoulder with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) during an afternoon news conference.

The Post noted that Gephardt, who has had strained relations with Hastert for more than two years, praised the speaker and recounted how they had "almost been in continuous meetings together" since the terrorist attacks took place.

"This is a time to pull together as a Congress and a country," Gephardt said. "I told the president this morning we were with him and behind him, and we would trust him and ask him to trust us."

There were a few signs of dissent. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a vocal liberal, said he was concerned that "in this heightened atmosphere, we will waste a lot of money on things of limited usefulness, leaving by the wayside a lot of things that need to be done," such as a Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

To view the Washington Post story, click here.
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