Frist and Daschle, Good Sports
The Senate has remained collegial over its history, even in divisive times. Especially important to its success is that the majority and minority leaders get along. Without that, deals are not made and legislation doesn't move.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Majority leader Bill Frist (R) of Tennessee and minority leader Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota have gotten along as well as any. The two men even planned a trip to Iraq together this month.
So it's a sign of their maturity that Dr. Frist feels comfortable enough to campaign in South Dakota for John Thune, Mr. Daschle's opponent. Daschle's reelection isn't secure and the GOP holds a slim margin in the Senate. Both men accept they must work for their parties' success while not ruining their working relationship. By Senate tradition and rules, the majority and minority leaders work differently from their counterparts in the House. House rules don't require the majority to consult the minority. But the rules of the Senate give a lot of weight to the minority; both staffs of the two leaders must work closely with one another - on the Senate schedule, for example, or consulting over "holds" placed on bills.
The Frist trip in May to campaign for Mr. Thune (but supposedly not against Daschle) shows those rules can work in balancing normal partisanship with legislative duties.