WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Senate negotiators Saturday rejected an offer from House Republicans on intelligence reform, saying it did not give enough power to the nation's new spy chief.
"The senators held a conference call and unanimously decided to reject the proposal," Alex Formuzis, communications director for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, told United Press International Saturday evening.
Lautenberg is one of eleven Senators in the so-called conference - an ad hoc committee of lawmakers with the unenviable task of trying to hammer out a compromise between the very different Sept. 11 reform bills passed by the Senate and House.
Among other variations, the two bills differ on the issue of what authorities to give a new national intelligence director, especially over the intelligence agencies based inside the Department of Defense.
The Sept. 11 commission and the White House have supported the Senate version of the bill, which gives the director budget authority over these agencies that currently is held by the defense secretary. But the Pentagon and its allies have dug their heels in on this question.
Late Friday, conference Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., sent Senators a compromise proposal, which he told UPI was "a carefully crafted compromise between the demands of the Department of Defense and the demands of the Sept. 11 commission."
Formuzis said that Senate staff were working on a counter proposal, which they hoped to send over to Hoekstra soon.