Next Stop, Helsinki
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- It's cold and snowy in Helsinki, where winter usually lingers until mid-May. President Bill Clinton, scheduled to depart for the Finnish capital at 9 p.m. ET tonight, is hoping his talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin won't be as chilly as the weather. But Russia is taking a hard-line stance going into this week's summit. A Kremlin spokesman warned that plans to expand NATO into Eastern Europe would be the West's biggest mistake since the end of the Cold War. At a news conference Wednesday, Clinton suggested there may be a place in NATO for Russia itself. "I do not believe Russia should be excluded from NATO membership. I'm not sure that Russia would not prefer a special charter between Russia and NATO. That's what we're trying to achieve now. But I... don't believe anybody should be excluded," Clinton said. (253K wav sound file).
Comp Time Bill Passes
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- Despite a threat from President Bill Clinton to veto the bill, the House voted 222-210 to approve legislation that allows workers to choose compensatory time off instead of pay for overtime work. The vote broke down mostly along partisan lines, with only 13 Democrats voting yes. In a letter sent to House Speaker Newt Gingrich today, Clinton said that he supports "comp time" efforts but the Republican bill fails to provide "real protection against employer abuse and preservation of fair labor standards." A similar bill is expected to come to a vote in the Senate in April.
Senate Vote Calls For Independent Counsel
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- On a 55-44 vote, the Senate has approved a "sense of the Congress" resolution that Attorney General Janet Reno should apply for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate allegations of illegal fund-raising in the 1996 presidential election. In a separate 58-41 vote, the Senate put aside an alternative Democratic resolution which said the Attorney General should use her "best professional judgment." The Democratic language also included the phrase "any presidential or congressional election campaign." The Senate resolution has no force of law. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who has recused himself from votes dealing with fund-raising because of his former role as a chairman of the Democratic National Committee, did not vote.
Surgeon General Satcher?
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- David Satcher, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has all but been offered the long-vacant job of surgeon general, CNN has learned. Dr. Satcher is a widely respected public health specialist and a strong advocate for African-American health issues. Sources say the sticking point to his nomination remains whether to expand the role of surgeon general to include duties as assistant secretary of health. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala reportedly supports the idea. The post has been unoccupied since December 1994 when Dr. Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign because of her controversial positions on sex education and drug use.
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- A scathing report is out, accusing Congress of wasting your money. The non-partisan group, Citizens Against Government Waste says pork-barrel spending during the last session of Congress is costing taxpayers more than $14.5 billion. The group brought out a live pig to make their point. According to the group's published report, a.k.a. the "pig book," so-called pork projects include $250,000 for flower growing research in Hawaii and money to research Louisiana jazz. The group says Texas ranks first among states with the most "wasteful spending," followed by Hawaii, Florida, California and Oregon.
Kasich: GOP United
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, deflecting reports of division within the Republican party over reducing taxes, says that "no one should be confused, that in fact the Republican Party continues to stand for lower taxes for all Americans." Kasich's remarks come in a week when House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed the concept of putting off a major tax cut to help achieve a balanced budget deal with President Bill Clinton. Kasich emphasized that Republicans all want tax cuts, but said they are in the process of deciding how the process will occur. He also said that Republicans will likely perform the budget reconciliation process by breaking it up into several parts -- the same tactic used last year.
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