Majority Leader Update

Majority Leader Bill Frist gave a rundown this morning to press in as Congress winds down for the Christmas holiday.
The Department of Labor/HHS Appropriations bill will be voted on to go to conference tomorrow. Frist said a lot of work had been done to reduce spending, “but a lot more work remains to be done.” About ANWR’s inclusion in the bill Frist said “I feel strongly ANWR should be in the bill” and that he is prepared to use “every strategy, every procedure and every option I have” to make sure it stays in the bill.
The AMT is “most likely not going to be part of the resolution” and Frist expects Congress is not going to be able to finalize that bill until after they return from Christmas.
On negotiations of the Patriot Act, Frist said, “we have negotiated a good, strong bill and I intend to have an up or down vote on it before we leave.” If this fails, he will file cloture.
Frist said Alito meetings are “going well” as senators are focusing on the nominee and the chairmen are working well together. “All the talk about filibuster will disappear” Frist told reporters and that he fully expects an up or down vote.
When asked about McCain’s torture amendment Frist is confident Congress “will come to an agreement that reflects the values” held by Americans, but said “an improvement could be made in the definition.”
On his White House meeting earlier that morning, Frist described it as “fascinating” and said he discussed the Iraqi elections process with Gen. George Casey. Elections are scheduled to begin tomorrow, results will be tabulated by the 22nd, finalized in early January and a new government will be officially installed in April.
Frist refused to take questions from reporters in regards to his SEC filings.