GWEN IFILL: Senator Daschle joins us from the Capitol, where lawmakers are attempting to reach an agreement on a $20 billion emergency aid package to help respond to the attack. Members of the House and Senate are also working out the details of what they are calling a "resolution of resolve" to support any U.S. retaliatory strike. Senator Daschle, welcome.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Thank you, Gwen.
GWEN IFILL: First of all, we understand you're just getting back in the Capitol after having been evaluated for a short time this afternoon. Is everything all right?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Everything was fine. That's right. There was a suspicion package on one of floors of the Capitol until the dogs could -- and of course the police force could examine the package appropriately. We all had to depart the building. We were out for about a half hour and came back in.
GWEN IFILL: And back to work on several things including the resolution of resolve. Where do things stand on this? It's not exactly a War Powers Act. What is it and exactly where does it stand tonight?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, it is a simple declaration of authority that the President has requested regarding his ability to respond to the circumstances and to find ways with which to assure that he has the means that maybe required as he considers all of the options in retaliation to the, to the incidents of this week. We're working on the language; we haven't come to any conclusion. There still has to be a lot of vetting and work done on it but that's underway.
GWEN IFILL: Does the President actually need congressional approval to declare such an act, to declare war as he has been kind of doing all week?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, the War Powers Act, of course, gives the President latitude to do a good deal of whatever requires... is required in his role as commander in chief. We have a role of course in Congress to be able to ensure that under our constitutional responsibilities we can respond and be partners in whatever decisions are made over the longer term. So I think what the President is looking for is some clarification and a restatement of that authority for purposes of emphasis as we go forward.
GWEN IFILL: And, what is the sticking point right now, Senator? Is it a difference over language, over scope?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, I think that there is, I don't know that there is one way to describe it or characterize the differences. I think that there are some issues that we're still trying to work through. I wouldn't characterize them necessarily as -- even as differences. I think that we've been so successful so far in the last three days and working as carefully and as cohesively as possible that I, I wouldn't want to give you the wrong impression. We simply have a lot of different ideas and how to word it and we're working on it.
GWEN IFILL: One of the different ideas it sounded like, at least Senator John Warner, who is the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee was saying that he thought it would be beneath the dignity of the United States to declare war on someone like, for instance, Osama bin Laden.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, I don't know that anybody is seriously considering a declaration of war any longer. I think there have been members of course that have made that proposal but I think the administration has stated its opposition. I'm certainly opposed, and I think the overwhelming majority of members in the Senate are opposed as well, but there are other ways to restate the President's authority as commander in chief and that's what we're looking at now.
GWEN IFILL: The White House also asked for $20 billion to begin to address some of the recovery efforts as well as the rebuilding, as well as the -- I guess the...I don't know what it's for I guess is the question. What is the $20 billion for and where does that stand?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, actually there have been a number of different figures that have been considered. I think the figure may now be $40 billion in large measure -- money to address the tremendous needs that we now have in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia. We have got to find ways with which to help those states dig out of the calamitous circumstances they're now facing.
Beyond that, of course, we want to help with the President's strong and concerted effort to deal with the array of issues that he must, in intelligence gathering working as we are with the military to find the perpetrators and to deal with that as well. So we've got a lot of work ahead of us and this is just the first installment perhaps as we try address it in a real way with the resources that are going to be required.
GWEN IFILL: Does that mean writing in essence a blank check for the White House?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: No, in fact, no that's one of the issues, is I don't think there is any support for an open-ended appropriation; we want to take this one step at a time. We want to be able to evaluate our circumstances; we want to be able to have the kind of role constitutionally that the Congress is required to have. We're doing that now.
GWEN IFILL: And to make sure that every chunk of money, for instance New York gets a dedicated chunk, Pennsylvania gets a dedicated chunk - it's not just a big barrel of money that goes over the transom, but everybody gets their own claim on their own source of money?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, we're trying to find the right balance. We want to give the President a good deal of latitude and responding as the administration sees fit but we also want to go through the normal appropriations process as well. We want to ensure that we are able to keep tabs and to ascertain where the money is going and have the confidence that it is going where we intended it to go.
GWEN IFILL: You have said that Congress is standing, Democrats, Republicans, shoulder to shoulder with this President during this time. Dick Gephardt has said there is no daylight between him and us. How do you begin to question the details on requests like this and still give the appearance of total lock-step support?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, I think we just have to take it a step at a time, a decision at a time. We have all talked about the importance of consultation. I have made that speech many times. I've heard my colleagues make it as late as this afternoon. There has to be a lot of consultation. I'm satisfied that today that there has been a great deal of consultation. We can always do better and that means on both sides. But we're attempting to do what we have not been able to do very much in the past under the most threatening and very difficult circumstances.
GWEN IFILL: One member of your body, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, was somewhat scolded by the administration for some information he revealed about classified intercepts. What did you think that?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Think of the....
GWEN IFILL: The revelation and the response from the White House.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, I think we have got to be very careful. I have admonished my caucus from the very beginning that this information is very, very sensitive. We have to be sure that it is kept and classified as we expect that it should be. We want to work with the administration and the only way that we can is to understand that they have to earn our trust and we have to earn theirs, and that means especially the way we handle very sensitive information.
GWEN IFILL: This is a very difficult time for everybody involved in this process, Senator Daschle. How do you go about during this process especially with all the details - how do you go about sustaining public confidence in the process and in their belief that the leaders of our government will be able to get to the bottom of this problem, this issue?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: Well, I think the most important thing is to continue to show what we have showed the last couple of days; that we are taking this in a very deliberate and very careful and very thoughtful way; that we're doing it not as Republicans and Democrats but as Americans representing all of America in Congress and that as we take it so deliberatively that we ensure that the American people know exactly what we're doing. I think we have been able to do that so far; and my hope and intention is it we can do it for the days and weeks ahead.
GWEN IFILL: Senator Daschle, thank you very much.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: My pleasure.