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In brief: Senate rejects House budget, again

Washington – Democrats controlling the Senate rejected for the second year in a row Wednesday a budget plan passed by House Republicans.

The 58-41 vote against the GOP budget came after a daylong debate in which Democrats blasted Republicans for refusing to consider tax increases as part of a solution to trillion-dollar deficits, and Republicans in turn attacked Democrats for not offering a budget at all.

At issue is the arcane budget process on Capitol Hill, which involves a nonbinding measure called a budget resolution. Actual changes to the budget are made in follow-up legislation.

In most years, all a congressional budget really does is assign an overall “cap” on the annual appropriations bills that set agency operating budgets. Democrats note that last summer’s budget pact already set such a cap for the ongoing round of spending bills, so Wednesday’s debate wasn’t really necessary.

China: Boats hijacked by N. Korean boat

BEIJING – Chinese state media say a North Korean boat has hijacked 29 Chinese fishermen on three separate boats and demanded $190,000 for their release.

The Beijing Morning Post reported today that the fishing boats were hijacked in Chinese waters on May 8 and moved to North Korean waters. The paper said the North Korean boat was manned by armed men in blue hats and uniforms but didn’t identify them.

Border police in northeastern China’s coastal Liaoning province told the paper they were in contact with the North Korean captors but declined to comment further.


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