News In Brief

The head of a key Senate panel said Congress and President Clinton are on a collision course over next year's budget. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R) of Alaska unveiled a spending plan $34 billion below the president's request. He warned that neither Congress nor the White House would agree to cuts he was forced to propose to fit within constraints imposed by a 1997 agreement to balance the budget. Unlike a House GOP proposal that takes funds from social and environmental programs, the senator's plan calls for across-the-board cuts in nondefense areas.

Apache attack helicopters may not see action in Kosovo anytime soon, the White House said. Apaches were expected to add punch to NATO's air campaign, but Clinton said in good summer weather most of what the helicopters do "can be done by A10s at less risk," referring to Air Force ground-attack planes. Also, the Pentagon said the international force NATO envisions for peacekeeping in Kosovo would number 45,000 to 50,000 troops. The original plan called for 28,000.

A $15 billion emergency-funding package, including $11.9 billion to fund the air war against Yugoslavia and boost military readiness, was approved by the House. The measure also included $1 billion for hurricane-battered Central America, $100 million for Jordan, about $574 million for US farmers, and $900 million to help with disasters like the tornadoes that hit Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, but put financial markets on notice that it is poised to raise rates if inflation concerns continue to build. In a one-page statement, the Fed said it was tilting toward future interest-rate increases. Many private economists viewed the announcement as a clear warning that rates could go up as early as the next Fed meeting, June 29-30.

The Senate voted to require that trigger locks or safe-storage devices be sold with all handguns. The 78-to-20 vote - with all Democrats and more than half the Republicans favoring the measure - was one of several in the Senate over the past week that have revealed a shift in the GOP-controlled Congress toward more gun control following the shooting spree at a Colorado high school last month.

GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes proposed allowing Americans to invest most of their Social Security taxes in the stock market. Clinton wants to invest part of the Social Security trust fund in the stock market to raise more money to pay benefits. Republicans generally dismiss that as government meddling in private markets, preferring instead a form of partial privatization.

The Justice Department renewed its court battle to strip US citizenship from John Demjanjuk, an alleged Nazi death-camp guard who escaped execution in Israel when evidence showed he was a victim of mistaken identity. The department was severely rebuked for its initial handling of his case.

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