President Bush, jockeying to avoid a politically damaging veto of major civil rights legislation, Saturday considered proposing a compromise that would ease his concerns over unacceptable job quotas.
Aides said the president, who has demanded that Congress revise the Civil Rights Act of 1990 or face a veto, was considering proposing alternate language. The proposal was produced after a flurry of last-minute White House and congressional negotiations aimed at salvaging the widely supported legislation and averting what could be a costly veto just weeks before the midterm congressional election.Meanwhile, the bill in question, passed this week by both the House and Senate but without the margins necessary to override a Bush veto, arrived at the White House.
The president has 10 days to sign or veto and White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said as recently as Friday, "Clearly, if it is not changed, it will be vetoed."
Fitzwater said Bush, who was spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat, was consulting with aides Saturday about the proposed resolution but no final decision had yet been made.
But no sooner had word surfaced that the president could move as early as Saturday on presenting the compromise, House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., rejected any action that would include a "recycling" of previous positions already rejected by House and Senate negotiators.
"Those changes (sought by the White House) have been considered and rejected," Foley told reporters. "I doubt we would go back and open up the bill again."
Fitzwater hinted at the action Friday, noting that if Bush did veto the legislation he would promptly send his own bill back to Capitol Hill and might consider delaying his veto or even signing the bill if Congress first passed resolutions promising to make revisions in the measure to satisfy administration concerns.