Senate Republicans are stalling Democratic efforts to slap President Bush with his first veto override after the House voted to set aside presidential rejection of an Amtrak funding bill.
Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas said the vote was too important to the president for a vote Thursday or Friday with several Republicans absent. None of Bush's 10 vetoes last year was overturned, and the Amtrak bill prompted his first veto of 1990.Bush has said he supports the bill's authorization of $2 billion for Amtrak over the next three years but vetoed the measure because of a provision that increases government control over freight railroad buyouts.
Democrats accused the administration of trying to scuttle support for the national passenger rail service - a course followed unsuccessfully by the Reagan administration.
As Republican senators tried to round up votes to protect presidential prestige, House GOP leaders introduced an alternative measure that supports Amtrak but leaves out increased Interstate Commerce Commission authority over rail takeover attempts.
The ICC already has the power to scrutinize takeovers involving multiple railroads or a portion of a railroad. The bill would give it authority over the buyout of a whole railroad by non-rail interests.
Bush, in his veto message, called the provision "a step backward for the rail industry." He said it would interfere with the ability of railroads to obtain financing and be a step toward re-regulation of the industry.