WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers admitted Monday they have all but given up hope of getting a bill reforming intelligence agencies to the president's desk by Election Day.
"We're going to keep negotiating," insisted John Feehery, s
Spokesman for House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. But he acknowledged that at this point the best they could probably hope for before the election is a deal which Congress could vote on in a post-poll, "lame-duck" session.
"A conference report (before the election) would be progress," he said, using the legislative terms of a compromise melding of the very different provisions of the House and Senate reform bills.
Feehery said Hastert had met with senior GOP Senate negotiator, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and the conference chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., Monday in Maine. The speaker was there campaigning for Republican challenger Brian Hamel and Hoekstra flew in to join them, Feehery said.
"It was a good meeting, but there were no major breakthroughs," he said.
During the weekend, House Republicans sent a compromise offer to the bipartisan Senate delegation, which unanimously rejected it following a conference call Saturday.
The key sticking point, as it has been through the process, was the question of the extent of authority a new national intelligence director should have, especially over the three agencies in the Pentagon that build and operate the nation's spy satellites and other electronic eavesdropping equipment.
Unless a breakthrough is made by Tuesday, any deal will come too late for Congress to reconvene and approve before the elections.