WASHINGTON -- The leader of nine Senate Republicans trying to reach a compromise with the Bush administration on civil rights legislation said yesterday that he would not negotiate any further and that White House Chief of Staff John Sununu offers no movement.
Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., who has been leading the compromise effort, announced that he was introducing new civil rights legislation embodying those agreements the Republican senators had been able to reach in word-by-word negotiations with Mr. Sununu and Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh.
But Senator Danforth, speaking at a news conference, said he would negotiate no further. He quoted Mr. Sununu as saying that there was "no further room for movement" in the negotiations and that the White House was "not going to change another word" in its counterproposals.
Senator Danforth said that two of his colleagues, Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, believed that it would be "fruitful to continue" the negotiations. "I wish them well," Senator Danforth said, but he added that "personally, I can't think of any other ways to narrow the differences" with Mr. Bush's aides.
The Associated Press quoted Judy Smith, deputy White House press secretary, as saying, "We're not giving up. We're always willing to sit down to discuss the issues and negotiate. The president wants to sign a civil rights bill, but he will not sign a quota bill."
Over the last three weeks, Senator Danforth said, the nine-senator negotiating team "made major efforts to reach out to the [Bush] administration." The only chance for a compromise now, he indicated, would be if Mr. Bush "can reach back a little bit."
The negotiations were the latest stage in a two-year congressional effort to adopt a civil rights bill that would overturn six 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Civil rights advocates believe the rulings weaken laws on racial job discrimination.
Mr. Danforth handed out a list of 22 changes he said the Senate negotiators made in this year's bill "at the request of the administration."