News In Brief
The Senate prepared for a debate today over the US role in the Kosovo conflict. Parliamentarian Robert Dove ruled that the War Powers Act requires a proposal sponsored Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona and Sen. Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware to be taken up by the full Senate. It would authorize US use of "all necessary force." Meanwhile, a lawsuit challenging the US military role in the Balkans was filed by a bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers who said Congress alone has the power to declare war. They are seeking a court declaration that the president is violating the Constitution by waging war with Yugoslavia without congressional approval.
President Clinton proposed tough emissions standards for new vehicles and dramatic cuts in sulfur levels in gasoline. The new rules would be phased in over five years, beginning in 2004. The level of sulfur in gasoline would be reduced 90 percent over that period. Also, makers of most minivans, trucks, and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) would have to reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides, although bigger SUVs would have until 2009 to comply. Critics said the plan would raise gasoline prices by as much as 6 cents a gallon; the government said prices would increase 1 or 2 cents a gallon.
Security was tightened for today's baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cuban National Team in Baltimore. A Miami-based Cuban-exile group asked the American Civil Liberties Union to take legal action against the Orioles for an alleged violation of fans' First Amendment rights by banning music, chanting, and banners at the game. The Orioles became the first US baseball team in four decades to play on Cuban soil in March, winning a 3-2 exhibition in Havana.
Clinton invited officials from the entertainment, Internet, and gun industries to a May 10 White House summit to discuss ways to reduce youth violence after the Colorado school shootings. The president indicated he would also to invite police, government, and religious leaders.
The US extended economic sanctions against Yugoslavia to include most goods and services, including oil. Also prohibited is the sale of US goods to a third country if it in turn is to ship them to Yugoslavia.
Gross domestic product (GDP) shot ahead at a 4.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 1999, down only moderately from a sizzling 6.0 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, The Commerce Department said. Consumers provided the driving force behind first-quarter growth, tapping savings to boost spending at a 6.7 percent annual rate - the strongest advance in personal-consumption spending since 1988.
Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi is to meet with Clinton today at the White House. His six-day US tour, which started in Los Angeles, included a stop in Chicago over the weekend.