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WASHINGTON, DC-President George W. Bush called on the US Senate to act on terrorism legislation Monday, the day Congress reconvened following its spring recess, in a meeting with business leaders at the White House’s Executive Office Building. But immediate reaction among Republicans and Democrats–who cannot agree on victims’ right to sue–appear to be stuck right where they were before Bush’s entreaty.

“Banks and investors, and others, will not finance construction projects that do not have terrorism insurance,” Bush explained. “And when you see construction–non-residential construction permitting down to the extent to which it is, it is a problem. And I expect the Congress to act.” Since the US House of Representatives has already passed its version of the legislation, the president was aiming his remarks directly at the Senate. He noted that non-residential construction for the month of February had decreased 17% from the same period in 2001.

In the days following Bush’s comments, the stalemate between the disagreeing parties continues, and so does the finger pointing. The following day on the Senate floor, Bill Nelson (D-FL) said, “the President took a swipe at the majority leader of the Senate [Tom Daschle (D-SD)] over the fact that the majority leader was not bringing up legislation on terrorism insurance when, in fact, if my memory serves me correctly, in the closing hours before the Christmas recess, it was the majority leader who brought up the terrorism insurance bill, and it was objected to by the minority leadership, specifically the senior Senator from Kentucky [Mitch McConnell, Jr. (R-KY)].”

On the day of the president’s speech, another senator took to the floor and suggested immediate action. “Mr. President, why don’t we pass antiterrorism-insurance legislation first thing in the morning?” inquired Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). “Just take from that legislation tort reform.” So far, there is no record of Republican response on the Senate floor to the president’s words. Following Bush’s Monday press conference, Senate leaders from both sides met but were unable to reach a consensus on what and when the next step on the legislation will be.

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