WASHINGTON (AP) -- A huge restoration project for Florida's Everglades that figures to be the last major piece of legislation passed by Congress before Election Day is also a way for House Republicans to blunt Democratic claims of a do-nothing Congress.
"There's still some work to do here, and we're going to get it done," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
Amid stalemate with President Clinton over the budget, the Senate recessed until a lame-duck session to begin Nov. 14. House GOP leaders decided to keep working to prevent Democrats from accusing them of shutting the Capitol down just before Election Day with the nation's business unfinished.
Yet the scheduling of the Everglades bill was infused with politics. Votes were scheduled Friday to ensure the attendance of GOP Rep. E. Clay Shaw of Florida, who faces a tough re-election battle and will have a powerful new tool for the final weekend of the campaign. The vote also gives Republicans a major environmental issue to promote in a hotly contested state in the presidential campaign.
The measure, part of a broader water resources bill that has already passed the Senate, would authorize $1.4 billion for the first phase of an eventual $7.8 billion federal-state project intended to restore the Everglades' natural sheet of water flow after decades of human interference and pollution.
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