SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
During this holiday period, conflicts between the administration and Congress are suspended, but not for very long. Maybe the most consequential is the struggle over an emergency-spending bill that congressional Democrats have made hostage to some kind of timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And Dan, the president says he's going to veto the spending bill because of the timetables. The question, obviously, what happens after the veto, and what are some of the time pressures they're looking at?
SCHORR: Well, after the veto I take it there will be some kind of negotiation, although how you can manage to marry your position, which is you must bring the troops home, and the other, that you can't have any kind of timetable to bring the troops home, I don't immediately see how'd they do that, but they've done it before.
SIMON: There is some disagreement, too, isn't there, as to what date both sides are looking at, as to when the support of U.S. troops in the field would be affected.
SCHORR: Well, the president, President Bush has said that April 15th they run out of money for the Afghanistan war and the war in Iraq. Since that time, it's been indicated that not quite the 15th of April, it could be later, it could maybe as late as June if they transfer money from other programs. But they'll be under pressure.
SIMON: Another conflict is playing itself out - the Senate investigation in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, replaced by eight interim appointments. And because of a provision in the USA Patriot Act, they don't have to be confirmed by the Senate, is that correct?
SCHORR: That is correct. They're in place. They have not been confirmed. They don't have to be confirmed because this is supposed to be an interim appointment - an interim can last forever - that was snuck into the Patriot Act. And so you can't get rid of them, unless somebody says they should resign.
SIMON: So what happens now? What's the next installment of this dispute?
SCHORR: Next one is that they want Attorney General Gonzales to explain to them how that all happened, that they fired eight people for no - apparently not very good reason. And now they want to have him come up and explain all of that. First of all, submit a big paper telling them about it.
Meanwhile, this thing is going to be a little more dicey because you now have Monica Goodling, who has taken the Fifth Amendment, who was a...
SIMON: She hasn't - she hasn't appeared yet. She hasn't taken the Fifth Amendment yet. She indicated that if she did appear, she would take the Fifth Amendment.
SCHORR: She - yes. If called, she would invoke the Fifth Amendment. Now she has resigned from her job as well. And so, you know, the thing bubbles on.
SIMON: The administration says, look, this has much to do about nothing. These are appointments we have the power to make and positions we have the power to dispose of.
SIMON: What happens from here?
SCHORR: Sitting here, you can't see where is going to come out. If the country is going to continue working and the government is going to continue working, at some point they have to say we will compromise; we'll do this but not that, and you can claim victory, and we can claim victory. When you ask me, in this situation, what I think will happen, you have me, I can't tell.
SIMON: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been in Syria and Saudi Arabia, met with President Assad. President Bush at a press conference referred to that visit as counterproductive and noted that Syria is still listed as a state supporting terrorism. Speaker Pelosi's delegation included one Republican congressman.
SCHORR: That's right. And well, there's was another criticism from the president. Apparently there isn't much they can do about it now. It is true that there is in this statute book, there's an act called the Logan Act, passed in 1799, which forbids any party, except those who work in the administration, to conduct foreign relations for the United States. And so somebody said, didn't she violate that? But I don't think they're going to do very much about it, and life goes on.
SIMON: Interesting ruling this week from the Supreme Court that held that the Environment Protection Agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases. President Bush had said that he considers that measures already taken are sufficient.
SCHORR: This is really quite remarkable, considering that only two members of the Supreme Court were not appointed by Republicans. You think they would support the president. Instead they're telling him, when it comes to emissions of this sort the EPA has and by implication should use that right to do something about that.
It's very interesting. There are going to be fights now with the states, there are going to be fights now with environmental groups. But the government is now officially on the side of the environmentalists.
SIMON: First quarter money raised in the presidential sweepstakes were published this week, and a bit surprisingly for some, Senator Barack Obama came close to matching Senator Hillary Clinton, almost dollar for dollar. He raised 25 million; Senator Clinton raised 26 million. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney surprised a lot of people by finishing first, and John McCain finished third.
SCHORR: It's really quite amazing, that two who were not frontrunner turned out to be frontrunners when it comes to raising money. And if you said the one who raises the most money should get the nomination, I'm not sure what would happen.
SIMON: Finally this week, Ford Motor Company announced that it had paid its new chief executive, Alan Mulally, more than $28 million in 2006.
SIMON: He only worked the last four months of the year.
SCHORR: Right. And so what is it you want to know, whether it is...
SIMON: Well, I'd like to know if my name was on the shortlist, or if it's too late to throw it in. But let's assume it wasn't. I don't even have a drivers license, much less can I make a car.
SCHORR: Ford lost $12.7 billion in the past year. Imagine how much this guy would get if Ford made some money.
SIMON: Thanks very much. Senior news analyst Dan Schorr.
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