Editorial

Editorial by the Plain Talk Hopefully, you have never worked at a job where the main goal of your co-workers is to take credit for your company's major accomplishments.

If you have plenty of experience dealing with such situations, may we offer a suggestion: run for Congress.

Capitol Hill would be the perfect environment for you to test your well-honed skills as you deal with prima donna members of the U.S. House and Senate.

The people we have sent to Washington to do our work, if employed in the private sector, may quickly find their careers on the line. Employee productivity, after all, makes the world go 'round.

Congress, however, exists in its own strange reality, that often isn't results-oriented at all. Stuff that should be accomplished with high priority enters a strange gridlock.

Why? Everybody is so worried about who will get the credit when some work actually does get done.

It's especially challenging this time of year. The general election is less than a month away.

Right now, emergency relief for drought-stricken farmers and ranchers could be in jeopardy, despite bipartisan support in Congress for sending billions of dollars to the Plains and the West.

According to news reports, nearly $3 billion in aid is hung up in negotiations between the Senate, House and Bush administration, weeks after an overwhelming majority in the Senate approved the money.

Congress will be in recess in just a few days. Lawmakers aren't sure whether the relief will survive.

The gridlock occurred when conservative Republicans in the House and GOP leaders there objected to the drought money, saying it cost too much.

Senators and members of the U.S. House from farm states have put party differences aside and united on this issue, but that may not be enough.

The drought aid is attached to the Senate version of a bill to pay for the Department of Homeland Security. Lawmakers could also tack it onto a bill President Bush requested for more than $7 billion in hurricane aid.

Our elected officials are trying to find ways to offset the cost by taking money from existing farm programs. That doesn't satisfy drought-aid supporters, but it might be the only way to broker a compromise. Complicating the negotiations, the administration has not taken a public position, leaving no one to referee the dispute between the House and the Senate.

Farmers and ranchers say they need the money badly. Their timing, however, couldn't be worse.

Sen. Tom Daschle badly wants to be come home to us boasting that he was responsible for bringing drought aid here.

At the same time, Republicans don't want to give Daschle a chance to blame President Bush � and Thune, Daschle's challenger � if the drought relief never comes through.

Thune supports the new drought money, and top Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee say the former congressman has helped convince them how important it is.

Daschle is running campaign commercials now that say Thune didn't work hard enough for drought aid two years ago. Thune's campaign says Daschle will have a difficult time telling voters how much his power helps South Dakota if the drought aid fails.

Allies of Thune seem to worry more about Daschle blaming the GOP if the drought money gets killed than they do about him taking credit for the aid. Republicans have also been instrumental in lining the money up in the Senate, so credit can be shared. But if GOP leaders block the money, it could hand Daschle an issue and create an opportunity to hurt Thune.

We wish members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate would simply do their jobs. We have a problem out here in God's country. They have the ability to fix it.

They should do just that. They can start by showing concern for something other than their own careers. Our farmers and ranchers have been suffering from years of drought and need help.

Frankly, we don't care who brings us drought assistance. We just want lawmakers to do their jobs.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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