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Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Briefly

April 21, 2005

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Washington, D.C.

Ethics chairman offers to investigate DeLay

The Republican chairman of the House ethics committee offered Wednesday to begin an investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay to end a stalemate that has kept the panel from functioning this year.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., made the proposal at a news conference flanked by three of the four other Republicans on the ethics panel.

Senior committee Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia quickly rejected the offer, saying his party would continue blocking the panel from operating unless investigative rules imposed by Republicans were changed.

This is the second time in two weeks that Republicans tried to break the deadlock, while Democrats have held their ground and criticized the GOP-written rules for investigating lawmakers, passed in January.

Washington, D.C.

Former CIA official asked to discuss U.N. nominee

Senators considering John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador have asked to interview former deputy CIA director John McLaughlin and two other high-ranking intelligence officials about possible Bolton efforts to transfer an analyst who had tangled with him, The Associated Press has learned.

Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee are trying to determine whether Bolton met with McLaughlin, another unnamed CIA official and an individual with the National Intelligence Council in July 2002 to pursue his case against the analyst, a Democratic committee staff member said Wednesday.

Democrats are also seeking more information on other personnel incidents involving Bolton. The committee, including several Republican members, agreed Tuesday to delay a vote on his nomination because of growing questions about his temperament.

Chicago

Federal lawsuit filed on No Child Left Behind

The nation's largest teachers union and a group of school districts sued the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday, claiming the No Child Left Behind act is severely underfunded and has forced schools to divert money from worthy programs to pay for the reform's "costly absurdities."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in eastern Michigan, claims the department of education is forcing schools to meet tough student testing and teacher licensing requirements even though Congress has shortchanged districts and states by $27 billion during the past four years. To meet the law's regulations, schools have had to use scarce state and local money, which the suit contends is illegal under No Child Left Behind.

Wednesday's legal challenge is the first nationally coordinated assault on the controversial act.

Vermont

Independent senator won't seek re-election

Sen. Jim Jeffords, who single-handedly upset the balance of power on Capitol Hill four years ago when he quit the Republican Party to become an independent, announced Wednesday he would retire at the end of his term next year, citing his own health problems and those of his wife.

In recent months, Jeffords' family and his staff questioned whether the 70-year-old senator was physically and mentally up to a statewide campaign for a fourth term. He stumbled in a recent radio interview, and was confused about some of his votes. His wife has cancer.

"It is time to begin a new chapter, both for me personally and for the people of Vermont," Jeffords said.

Washington, D.C.

Marine likely nominee to lead Joint Chiefs

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, a Vietnam veteran whose military postings have ranged from the ceremonial halls of the White House to the violent streets of Somalia, is expected to be named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a senior official said Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has recommended Pace to President Bush, who is expected to announce his choice soon, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pace, 59, who has served for nearly four years as the Joint Chiefs vice chairman, would be the first Marine to hold the top job in the military.

The Joint Chiefs chairman, who normally serves two two-year terms, is the senior military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense.

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