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Richard Gephardt walks past a painting of himself in his St. Louis campaign office. File/ Associated Press
After weighing last-minute criticisms and attempts to shift priorities, the House moved early today toward approving a five-year bipartisan plan to cut taxes and balance the federal budget. "It isn't brilliant. It isn't perfect, but it is a huge step forward," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. "It will rebuild faith in this country in these institutions."
Documents dealing with the balanced budget deal will be put on the Internet so all Americans can see how it came about and what's in it, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said last week. Gingrich said the home page will allow people to consider documents "at the same time as the Washington insiders, have all the knowledge we have and truly move toward a balanced budget in the right way with the American people participating."
Despite a last-minute change of heart by two influential Democrats, the Senate on Tuesday failed to muster a veto-proof margin as it approved a bill to ban a controversial late-term abortion procedure. There was strong support for the bill to outlaw the abortion technique, known as intact dilation and extraction. The ban passed, 64-36, but fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override President Clinton's promised veto.
The next general election in Idaho may be one of the dullest ever. That's why politicians are keeping a close eye on Gov. Phil Batt. If Batt decides to seek a second term next year, as now appears likely, other top office holders are likely to stay put.
Mayors seek flood relief The mayors of Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn., rushed from office to office Wednesday pleading with top Senate Republicans to approve an extra $400 million in relief for their flood-ravaged region. Much of the money would go toward buying out thousands of riverside homes and businesses destroyed along the Red River.
President Clinton and Republican leaders neared agreement Thursday on the outlines of plan that would balance the federal budget in 2002 while cutting taxes by $135 million and imposing new curbs on Medicare and Social Security spending. Elements of the far-reaching plan still were being negotiated late in the day as Clinton administration officials and GOP congressional leaders wrestled over final details of the tax cut and began trying to build support for the deal among their rank and file.
The Senate, hoping to encourage volunteerism, overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday to protect volunteers from lawsuits. "If this becomes law, you can feel free to help your neighbor or the Boy Scouts without fear of lawsuits - unless you're engaged in some kind of willful, wanton, reckless conduct," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has pushed such legislation for years.
The Senate's Republicans are moving swiftly to consider a series of far-reaching measures designed to bolster their influence in selecting federal judges and to inhibit President Clinton from naming anyone not to their liking. Under one of several proposals to be considered by the Republicans at a caucus Tuesday, a small number of Republican senators would have the power to block any Clinton administration nominees they thought were not conservative enough or were unsuitable for any other reason.
American Airlines' planned alliance with British Airways got rough treatment in Senate hearings Tuesday from lawmakers and rival carriers voicing concern it would lead to a trans-Atlantic monopoly. David Schwarte, American's managing director of international affairs, defended the proposed deal, saying it would make U.S.-British routes more competitive. He said American was prepared to give up gate slots at London's Heathrow Airport as part of the deal.
U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth opened a congressional hearing this week with a tale that seemed to typify the bureaucratic thinking people love to hate about the federal government. The U.S. Forest Service has its priorities so messed up, the Idaho Republican lamented, that it will send a helicopter into the wilderness "without question" to rescue a sick wolf. But it won't let one land to rescue a lost Boy Scout.
Only a day after it barred a visually impaired aide from bringing her guide dog into its chamber, an embarrassed Senate Tuesday reversed course, welcomed the dog and agreed to allow disabled people to bring any "supporting services" they may need onto the Senate floor. "The Senate is addressing an inequity that placed unnecessary roadblocks in the way of individuals helping us serve the American people in the Senate," said Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.
Forestry professors told a congressional panel and House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday that timber "overcrowding" contributes to wildfires, insect infestation and disease. Speaking at a joint meeting of the House Agriculture and Resources committees, University of Washington professor Chad Oliver said reduced thinning of green trees and reduced salvage of dead trees creates bad habitat for endangered species.
A Senate panel agreed Wednesday to broaden its investigation of potential Democratic fund-raising abuses to include GOP-linked tax-exempt organizations, the Republican Party and Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., and the panel's ranking Democrat, Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, resolved a five-week impasse over the details of subpoenas to GOP-backed organizations in their investigation of fund-raising practices in the 1996 presidential campaign.
With a deadline for Senate action nearing, Democratic leader Tom Daschle threatened Monday to block all bills until Republicans remove obstacles to ratification of a chemical weapons treaty. Sen. Jesse Helms, ending any notion of softening his opposition to the treaty, planned to open hearings today with a witness list stacked against ratification.
Despite a promise to expand their probe of campaign fund-raising abuses, Senate Republicans have so far refused to start investigating fellow Republicans or such powerful GOP allies as the Christian Coalition. Out of 63 subpoenas issued so far, only two have targeted a Republican - a fund raiser for Bob Dole and other GOP candidates. He already has pleaded guilty to fund-raising violations.
After winning support from a key Republican, opposition is mounting among influential Democrats to President Clinton's plan to make the timber industry pay for its own logging roads on national forests. In a letter to timber industry officials obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he shares their concerns and would pass them on to colleagues on the appropriate committees.
On the brink of starvation, North Korea is demanding food as a precondition to peace talks, according to a delegation of U.S. senators who returned here from the North Korean capital Saturday. "We were led to believe that there was a rift and that the military was disturbed that the civilian authorities had not been able to obtain the food and obtain the fuel they'd been told they'd get," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
It's safe to say that students at the Foreign Affairs College of the People's Republic of China probably haven't heard many lectures like the one they heard Saturday from U.S. House Speaker and former history professor Newt Gingrich. Gingrich told the class of about 100 future diplomats that China's effort to provide economic freedom without political freedom is doomed, insisted that freedom "is a right bestowed by our Creator" and declared that, in an age of instant and widespread electronic communication, diplomacy was increasingly public and no longer "defined solely by secret negotiations in small rooms."
After months of opposition, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms Tuesday raised the prospect of quick Senate ratification of the stalled chemical weapons treaty. Helms, who spent the day escorting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on a tour in his home state, announced he would begin hearings on the Chemical Weapons Convention April 9. He then hinted strongly that the treaty could still be ratified by April 29, the day its provisions are scheduled to take effect.