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During the abbreviated holiday
recess, Jewish groups tried to
turn up the heat on behalf of the
faltering anti-terrorism bill.
But inceasingly, the signs are
pointing to a legislative dead end
for the measure, which passed
the Senate months ago, but
stumbled in the House, where
conservative legislators have
fought provisions that would al-
like the para-
A recent com-
gutted many of
failed to satisfy
ponents. The big
question now in-
volves the role of
At a recent Call to get tough.
lobby day organized by the Na-
tional Jewish Community Rela-
tions Advisory Council
(NJCRAC), Mr. Gingrich offered
a ringing call for a tougher ap-
proach to fighting terror. But the
Speaker has been unwilling or
unable to convince his rebellious
freshman colleagues, who are
backed by pro-gun groups, to get
moving on the anti-terror bill.
`The charitable interpretation
is that he's lost control of his
troops," said an official with a
Jewish group that has been in
the thick of the terrorism debate.
"But there's a real question about
how hard he's tried."
The administration continues
to back the omnibus bill. But the
and the increas-
ing disarray in
means that it
has not been a
priority at the
groups on the far
right, like the
have been using
Capitol Hill to
fight the bill.
said Malcolm Hoenlein, execu-
tive vice-chair of the Conference
of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations. "If they
fail to act on this bill, it will send
a clear message to all the terror-
ist groups that we're not serious.
And then it will be open season
It's an old story, but it gets
stranger with each retelling: The
religious right and their friends
in Congress continue to bicker
over their "religious equality"
After months of internal wran-
gling, two versions of the amend-
ment were dropped into the
hopper in November focusing on
two different goals.
One, sponsored by Rep. Ernest
Jim Istook, R-Okla, specifically
endorses student-led school
prayer. Its introduction was de-
layed beciuse a series of hear-
ings around the country failed to
establish that Christians and
others are being systematically
deprived of their religious rights
because of recent Supreme Court
But now, the amendment ap-
parently has a good head of
steam; in December, Mr. Istook
gathered some 101 cosponsors, a
tally Rabbi David Saperstein, di-
rector of the Religious Action
Center of Reform Judaism,
termed "very alarming."
The other version, offered by
Rep. Henry Hyde, R-111., has pro-
voked resistance from some
Christian groups because it fo-
cuses primarily on government
funding of parochial institutions,
The Christian Coalition, which
made the amendment a top pri-
ority in its Contract with the
American Family, is not taking
sides; officials of the group say
they could support either. But
their lack of visible enthusiasm
has raised some eyebrows on
Jewish groups continue to lob-
by ferociously, making the point
that tampering with the Consti-
tution to address problems that
may not exist is a bad idea.
"The battle lines are drawn,"