Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Lucas at Bush luncheon, sends 'get-along' signals

By Patrick Crowley and The Associated Press
The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Associated Press

        U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas of Boone County was among the 50 or so Democrats who attended a White House lunch Monday to mark President Bush's first 100 days in office.

        All 535 members of Congress were invited to attend, but only about 200 showed. Many members have not returned to Washington from the two-week Easter recess that ended Monday, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

        As the only Democrat in Kentucky's federal delegation, Mr. Lucas clearly saw the luncheon as an opportunity to reaffirm his posture as a conservative willing to cross party lines.

        “I sense a different climate and attitude up here,” Mr. Lucas said after the lunch. “I'm very hopeful meaningful things can get done on education and other issues.”

        Mr. Bush, a Republican, used a similar message during what Mr. Lucas described as “brief remarks” during the event.

        “We've had some good debates, we've made some good progress and it looks like we're going to pass some good law,” Mr. Bush told lawmakers gathered in the Rose Garden. “I know we don't always agree, but we're beginning to get a spirit here in Washington where we're more agreeable, where we're setting a different tone.”

        Mr. Lucas said he wants the White House and Congress to agree on at least a partial prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.

        “I think we can afford it and we really owe it to our seniors and the American people,” he said.


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