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News In Brief

By CompiledSuman BandrapelliPeter Nordahl, and Yvonne Zipp / March 21, 1996



THE US

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The Senate voted to wrap up the 1996 budget - six months late and just in time to work on President Clinton's 1997 budget plan. The spending bill must now be reconciled with the House's more austere version. One more stopgap bill will probably be needed to keep the government running while the White House and Congress work on a compromise. Meanwhile, GOP leaders were set to meet with Clinton, who hopes to convince them to reach a balanced budget agreement before the election.

The House is debating a bill that would reform legal immigration and slow the wave of illegal immigrants to the US. The House added a proposal for counterfeit-proof social security cards, which opponents say is the first step toward a national identification card. Representatives also agreed to a provision to punish foreigners who illegally entered the US by barring them entrance permanently. While few complain about stiffer penalties for illegal aliens, some oppose measures to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants. Critics also decry combining legal and illegal immigration reform in the same bill.

The House endorsed a nonbinding resolution that says the US should defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China. The Senate is expected to take up the resolution soon. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Christopher will meet with the Chinese foreign minister next month in The Hague to discuss Taiwan and other matters straining US-China relations. And in an annual meeting between Taiwan and US military officials, the administration approved sale of Stinger surface-to-air missiles and an advanced targeting and navigation system for jets. But the US denied Taiwan's request for new submarines, The Washington Post reports.

Billionaire Ross Perot says he'll run for president if supporters of his Reform Party ask him to.

Senator Dole says he and Clinton have agreed that the line-item veto should be passed this year but not become effective until after the election. The line-item veto would allow the president to strike specific spending programs without vetoing entire legislation. A House-Senate conference to approve a compromise plan is expected this week, but the plan must still win endorsement from Congress.

The Supreme Court ruled that the government doesn't need to adjust the 1990 Census to make up for an acknowledged undercount of minorities.

The Senate unanimously agreed to repeal a law requiring discharge of service members diagnosed with the HIV virus. The measure was passed two months ago as part of a larger defense authorization bill and never came up for a separate vote in Congress. House and Senate negotiations were set to begin.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was criticized at a congressional hearing for verbal attacks he made about the US on his recent trip to the Mideast. The White House also came under fire for not investigating Farrakhan for possible violations of federal law during his visits to Libya, Iran, and Iraq. Hundreds of Farrakhan supporters crowded into the hearings. Two people were arrested for "disruption of Congress."

The military can't recruit at at University of Connecticut Law School, the Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled. The court upheld a ruling barring the military, saying Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy discriminates against homosexuals and violates state antidiscrimination laws.

The House passed a bill that would pay the legal bills of White House travel office employees fired in May 1993.

Cuba says it may close its airspace to US-bound planes. This would cost US airlines $69 million in extra fuel. And Cuba would lose $8.5 million annually in overflight payments.

Television broadcasters would stop transmitting in analog in 2005 and broadcast in a new digital format, under Clinton's budget plan. The White House would make broadcasters pay to convert the digital signal into analog for people who want to keep their current TV sets.

THE WORLD

A suicide bomber blew himself up near an Israeli Army convoy in southern Lebanon, killing a soldier and wounding seven others. The Iranian-backed Islamic militant group Hizbullah claimed responsibility. Earlier, Prime Minister Peres warned Hizbullah that Israel will retaliate against any attacks on Jews. Separately, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers after the military blew up the West Bank home of a suicide bomber.

The hearing on the first ethnic-cleansing case in the Balkan conflict opened at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Prosecutors accused fugitive Yugoslav Army officers Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic, and Veselin Sljivancanin in the 1991 massacre of 241 Croats in Vukovar. Serbia has refused to surrender the officers to the Tribunal.