WHAT'S AT STAKE (READ THE REUTERS REPORT)
If Jeffords drops out of the Republican Party, it will send a political shock wave through the nation's capital, since it would suddenly give Democrats control of the chamber and elevate Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota from Senate minority leader to majority leader.
Once in power, Democrats would set the legislative agenda in the Senate, and that would certainly hurt efforts by Bush to push his conservative agenda.
BUSH SUCKS AT HARDBALL (READ THE AP REPORT)
His [Jefford's] relations with the White House have been strained in recent weeks, fallout from a struggle over the budget and the senator's desire for more education funding than the administration wants.
Jeffords sought a commitment from the White House for more federal education funding for disabled students as a condition for supporting the president's spending plan and $1.6 trillion tax cut. The White House balked, and GOP aides accused Jeffords at the time of reneging on a compromise hashed out with Cheney and senior Republican leaders.
Shortly after the vote, Jeffords was not invited to the White House for a National Teacher of the Year award ceremony honoring a Vermont high school educator. In addition, some GOP aides have whispered that the White House might retaliate by seeking changes in a dairy support system that benefits farmers in Vermont and the Northeast.
THE TAX CUT ANGLE (READ THE AP REPORT)
Further complicating the tax debate was the speculation about whether Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont would leave the Republican Party to become an independent or a Democrat. Although most senators say that wouldn't necessarily derail the tax bill in the Senate, it could disrupt progress on a House-Senate conference.
WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN? (READ THE AP REPORT)
He was the sole Republican in the House to oppose President Reagan's 1981 tax cut; he was the first Republican in the Senate to oppose convicting President Clinton on House impeachment charges and he voted against the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...
Education in general and special education in particular -- the programs providing services to those with disabilities -- have been Jeffords' passion since he first went to the House in 1975. Now chairman of the Senate committee that oversees all programs on health and education, he made more federal aid for special education his key demand in negotiations with the White House over Bush's tax cut...
Jeffords is a native Vermonter who takes seriously the state's tradition of independence. His father was a chief justice of the Supreme Court and Jeffords served as the state attorney general before he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1972. He lost the Republican primary then to a candidate backed by the party elders...
He condemned Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" in 1994, complaining that it had "a Southern, religious-right focus, which is not the United States. It's the South, but it's not the United States..."
Congressional Quarterly listed Jeffords as the Republican most likely to support Clinton, a rating that Clinton noted at a White House function in 1998.
"I used to refer to Senator Jeffords as my favorite Republican and then I was informed that I had endangered his committee chairmanship -- and his physical well-being," said Clinton. "So I never do that anymore."
THE ARGUMENT FOR SWITCHING (READ TOMPAINE.COM'S REPORT)
And what about you, Gentleman Jim?
Despite your membership in the Singing Senators with Trent Lott, your Senate colleagues still don't seem to know what to do with you. They threaten your chairmanship, they're bad-mouthing you to the press, and now the White House "forgets" to invite you to the Teacher of the Year ceremony when a Vermont teacher wins the award!
What if you switched parties?
You just won your re-election last November, so like your friend Linc, you'd have five years for your home-state Democrats to get re-acquainted before your next election. (And many of them seem to already like you, since both you and Gore carried Vermont easily last year.)
JIM'S SINGING MY SONG... (READ STATEMENT ON LABOR LAWS)
The voters would be with you. Vermont has been trending more and more Democratic; Bill Clinton won by 16 percent in 1992, 22 percent in 1996, and Gore/Nader beat Bush/Buchanan by 16 percent in 2000.
You could belong to a political party that was actually on the same side as you on solar and wind initiatives, the Brady bill, reproductive rights, health care, and minimum wage.
When you were first elected to the House of Representatives, there were still Rockefeller Republicans. (Nelson was even Vice President!) But now Rockefeller Republicans are facing extinction; you must adapt to your new environment.
You certainly seem to be a proud Yankee, and according to my Almanac of American Politics, you're "a history buff [with] a bill to catalogue and study unprotected Civil War sites." Of course, when you went into politics, the GOP was Abe Lincoln's party; now it's closer to Jefferson Davis' party.
As I have often stated, there is simply no place for discrimination in our workplaces. And it is my fervent hope that the day will come when all American workers will be secure in their fundamental right to be protected against discrimination in their workplaces.
We have made great strides in this direction. The enactment of the Civil Rights Act over 30 years ago served to codify this Nation's commitment to fundamental principles of equal opportunity and fairness in the workplace. We followed along this path with the subsequent enactment of a number of important laws protecting against discrimination and unfair treatment of employees; for example the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. We are here today because of a growing concern that as a result of recent Supreme Court decisions, we seem to be moving away from our goal rather toward it.
PROFILE (READ THE CNN REPORT)
Pick a partisan hot-button issue of the past few years -- campaign finance, tax cuts and the impeachment of former President Clinton all come to mind -- and you are likely to find the GOP congressional leadership on one side and Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords on the other.
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