Take that, Constitution
President Clinton’s first use of the line-item veto set the stage Monday for an expected legal challenge to the constitutionality of the new power awarded presidents by Congress.
White House officials were confident that Clinton’s veto of two tax breaks and an arcane Medicaid provision benefiting New York state would withstand any future legal challenge.
But constitutional scholars were less sure.
Harvard University law professor Lawrence Tribe predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would declare the line-item veto unconstitutional, once a test case reached the high court.
“The bottom line is that the court takes the separation of powers very seriously,” Tribe said. “I think it is likely to invalidate this blatant violation of the constitutional arrangement under which the power to make and repeal laws belongs only to the Congress and cannot be handed over to a president.”
Sen. Slade Gorton called a news conference to rally Spokane against the EPA’s new clean air standards, bemoaning the “drastic concessions” the city would have to make in order to meet them.
However, Spokane has never flunked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone standard - old or new - and is expected to meet the EPA’s newly established limit for small airborne particles.
“I’m delighted to hear that Spokane is in compliance,” Gorton told the gathering at the Spokane Chamber of Commerce.
BUSINESS AND LABOR
Show of solidarity
The walkout against UPS got a shot in the arm this week when AFL-CIO President John Sweeney pledged to provide the Teamsters with $10 million weekly in strike benefits, thus raising the prospect of a lengthy walkout.
The company, meanwhile, warned that the loss of business caused by the strike will force it to lay off 15,000 workers by the end of the week. UPS is carrying only 10 percent of its regular volume of 12 million packages daily.
The dispute between the Teamsters and the UPS, which normally provides 80 percent of the nation’s package delivery service, is on its way to becoming the biggest, and most costly, strike in a generation.
“Because their fight is our fight, we are making this strike our strike,” said the AFL-CIO president.
By Thursday negotiators for UPS and the Teamsters had returned to the bargaining table.
Prescription for outrage
A consumer advocacy group charged Wednesday that pharmaceutical manufacturers boost their profits by pressuring doctors to change the drugs they prescribe, sometimes to the detriment of their patients’ health.
The watchdog group Consumer Federation of America said drug companies spend billions of dollars acquiring pharmaceutical benefit management companies, or PBMs, in trying to control which prescription drug services health insurance plans provide.
“It’s the best-kept secret in health care,” said Howard Metzenbaum, a former senator from Ohio and chairman of the consumer group. “Drug companies have taken control over the kind of prescription drugs that patients can obtain in our medical system.”
CRIME AND JUSTICE
Off the hook
The Justice Department decided Friday against prosecuting senior FBI officials in connection with an alleged cover-up that followed the deadly 1992 Ruby Ridge siege. But it left open the possibility that they could be fired.
The department said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute former Deputy Director Larry Potts and his chief aide at the time, Danny Coulson, on charges they falsely denied drafting orders authorizing the use of excessive force during the siege.
The department’s two-year criminal investigation also reaffirmed a 1994 decision against prosecuting Lon Horiuchi, the FBI sharpshooter who wounded white separatist Randy Weaver and killed his wife, Vicki, during the siege of Weaver’s remote North Idaho cabin.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who investigated the siege, said the decision “means accountability has still not been achieved. And so, neither has a restoration of the public’s confidence in federal law enforcement.”
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman from wire reports