News In Brief
A key vote was expected in Congress Sunday on President Clinton's request for expedited authority to negotiate trade deals. The White House and GOP leaders were offering concessions on major spending bills in return for elusive votes on trade. A showdown on trade, scheduled for last Friday, was delayed to give the president more time to seek support. To keep government running, lawmakers passed an emergency spending bill effective through Sunday.Skip to next paragraph
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Unemployment tumbled to a 24-year low amid brisk hiring in October, the Labor Department reported. It said the jobless rate fell from 4.9 percent in September to 4.7 percent last month, the lowest level since October 1973.
A Massachusetts judge was deciding whether the murder conviction of British au pair Louise Woodward would stand or fall. Judge Hiller Zobel's unprecedented decision to e-mail his ruling to news groups - as early as today - for posting on the World Wide Web added to the notoriety of the case.
Both houses of Congress approved a $270 billion health, labor, and education bill that would delay, but not kill, Clinton's proposed national education tests. The measure bars the White House from pilot-testing exams of fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math during the 1998 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But massive, must-pass budgets bills for foreign aid, for the District of Columbia, and for the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce were bogged down in heated policy debates.
The Senate passed a scaled-down, stop-gap highway bill to get states through the next six months after Congress failed to enact a six-year transportation measure. Without a bill, governors complained that the 1998 contracting and bidding seasons would be disrupted and basic programs, among them safety, would be curtailed. The Senate compromise needed to be reconciled with a significantly different House approach.
The Senate threw Amtrak a $2.3 billion lifeline in exchange for business reforms at the money-losing national passenger railroad. The money was earmarked for upgrades of rolling stock and other equipment that Amtrak hopes will cut costs and increase speed and ridership. It was uncertain whether the House would approve the measure before Congress recessed for the remainder of the year.
The Senate also voted to make it easier to adopt abused and neglected children, including those in foster care. The measure would make children's safety - not family reunification - the primary goal. Currently, states must make "reasonable efforts" to keep families together before allowing children to be adopted. The bill would give states cash bonuses - $3,000 for each foster child adopted, and $6,000 for each special-needs child. The Senate bill needed to be reconciled with a House version that had no provision for funding.
House lawmakers voted to extend US agricultural research programs for another year. This measure needed to be reconciled with a Senate bill that would boost such research by $1 billion over five years by tapping administrative funds for food-stamp programs.
Clinton became the first sitting president to address a homosexual rights organization. He spoke in Washington at a $250-a-person fund-raiser for the Human Rights Campaign that drew 1,500 people. Clinton said his vision was one America in which "we come together across all our lines of difference."
US Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri said he was "seriously considering" a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000. He spent the weekend in Iowa, building ties with Republicans who will vote in the first electoral contest of the next presidential campaign.
It was unclear whether Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz would plead Iraq's case in the impasse over weapons inspections via an address to the UN Security Council today - or privately in discussions with some council members. He told CNN Iraq would expel American inspectors if there was no breakthrough at the UN. He also threatened again that Iraq might fire on American U-2 planes scheduled to resume surveillance flights today. Iraq turned back three more inspection teams Sunday because they included Americans.
Former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai officially return-ed to the office, taking on the challenge of leading the country out of its deep economic crisis. Chuan maintained a reputation for honesty despite a scandal that collapsed his first government in 1995. He succeeds Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who quit over steep drops in the stock market and in the value of Thailand's currency, the baht.