Senate leaders vow author will be held accountable
Sunday, November 21, 2004 Posted: 10:17 PM EST (0317 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday that "accountability will be carried out" against whoever slipped a provision into an omnibus spending bill that would have allowed two committee chairmen to view the tax returns of any American.
"I have no earthly idea how it got in there," Frist said on CBS's "Face The Nation." "Nobody is going to defend this."
The language was caught and removed in the Senate on Saturday, but the House will have to approve the fix before the spending bill can be sent to the White House for President Bush's signature.
However, the delay will not cause a government shutdown. Congress already had passed a stopgap resolution to fund government agencies through December 3 in order to give the White House time to consider the omnibus bill.
A military plane flew that resolution to Chile, where Bush was attending the APEC summit, so the president could sign it to avoid any disruption of government.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a written statement that "The Republicans' lack of transparency and willingness to abuse their power is undermining democracy. It should be of grave concern to all Americans that their privacy could be invaded by such an outrageous provision."
Sen. John McCain said Sunday that the episode points up the problems created when Congress passes gigantic spending bills at the end of a session, before anyone has time to read them.
"If there is ever a graphic example of the broken system that we now have, that certainly has to be it," the Arizona Republican said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "How many other provisions didn't we find in that 1,000-page bill?"
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York called Sunday for a "full and complete" investigation into how the language got into the bill, followed by "appropriate punishment" for those responsible.
"This harkens back to the days of [FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover, when some unknown person could go and snoop on you," he said on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."
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