Senate Democratic and Republican leaders outlined a priority agenda for the year, saying that the Persian Gulf crisis cannot deter Congress from dealing with pressing needs at home.
But Speaker Thomas Foley said Monday a war would greatly affect the budget "and push back the urgent national needs that we have."Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell and Republican leader Robert Dole covered a wide range of legislative priorities, some brand new, a few that were blocked by filibusters last year, and others that were vetoed by President Bush.
Although they agreed on some priorities - such as energy conversation, health care and campaign finance reform - different approaches to the same goal could provoke major partisan battles in the next two years.
But Mitchell and Dole were in full agreement on legislation to defer the tax obligations of military personnel serving in Operation Desert Shield if they cannot file their returns by April 15.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., head of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, have scheduled early hearings and Congress is expected to pass the bill very quickly.
"We have some brave men and women toiling in the Persian Gulf and they have enough to do without having to sit down and figure out how much they owe Uncle Sam," Bentsen said. "And it turns out they are owed refunds, they ought to be able to earn interest if they are unable to file their taxes by April 15."