Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senate Republican leader Bob Dole charged Thursday that President Clinton is AWOL in the war on crime.
They say Clinton needs to step in and resolve the infighting among Democrats in Congress that has deadlocked a House-Senate conference appointed to work out differences in the crime bill."He has been a follower on this issue, not a leader," Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, complained in a Capitol press conference.
"He has occasionally endorsed a few specific proposals and held a few photo opportunities. But President Clinton has never submitted a comprehensive crime bill to Congress, despite being in office for 18 months," he said.
"We think it's time he took a stand and got his act together," Dole said.
Both said the crime bill is being held hostage by fights among Democrats on whether to allow as evidence the statistics on death-sentence appeals. The statistics show more minorities received such sentences, a fact that may overturn sentences because of prejudice.
Dole said that is just "a back-door attempt to defeat the death penalty." Making the percentage of death penalties for each minority group match the number of minorities in the general population is nearly impossible, he said.
Hatch said, "Instead of facing down liberal opponents of the death penalty in his own party, the president appears willing to risk . . . to sign a bill which effectively eliminates that penalty rather than offend his party's liberal, anti-death penalty wing."