GOP renews call for Whitewater action

May 25, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Republican lawmakers have stepped up pressure on Democrats to schedule congressional hearings into the Whitewater affair, as special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr. wound down the initial phase of his investigation of President Clinton's role in the failed Arkansas land venture.

Ending what had been the Clinton administration's first extended respite from GOP criticism over Whitewater, more than 90 House Republicans led by Rep. John T. Doolittle, R-Calif., introduced a resolution yesterday calling for concurrent hearings by five congressional committees. The hearings would begin no later than Aug. 15, the resolution states.

In the Senate, Republicans were threatening to force a vote on hearings before the end of the week if behind-the-scenes negotiations between party leaders fail to resolve a long-running partisan dispute over the timing and forum for a congressional probe.

GOP sources said "some progress" was made following a meeting Monday between Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, and Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., but the two sides continued to disagree over ground rules. If no agreement is reached by today, they said, Republicans might try to force a Whitewater vote before lawmakers leave town for a weeklong Memorial Day recess.

Both the House and the Senate voted in March to recommend that Congress hold hearings on the Whitewater affair provided Democratic and Republican leaders could structure them in a way that did not interfere with Mr. Fiske's criminal investigation. Since then, Republicans have repeatedly accused the Democrats of stalling the public probe in hopes that public interest in Whitewater would subside.

Mr. Fiske, meanwhile, is nearing the end of the first phase of his investigation into Whitewater Development Corp. and its possible contribution to the failure of a thrift.

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