News In Brief

By , Lance Carden and Ross Atkin

Trying to regain the offensive on Social Security, President Clinton said he was sending Congress part of a plan he outlined early this year. It would use budget surpluses to pay down national debt, then apply savings in lower interest payments to shore up the retirement program. The president's original proposal would have allowed investment of some Social Security taxes in the stock market, but that was dropped.

Clinton will veto $14 billion in funding for the Interior Department, if changes aren't made to protect the environment, White House officials said. Although the president signed a record $8.7 billion bailout for farmers, aides indicated he was seriously considering a veto of the $268 billion defense bill, even though it's a veto Congress might be able to override.

Meanwhile, House Republicans called for a 1.4 percent across-the-board funding cut as part of an effort to keep overdue spending bills from dipping into Social Security surpluses. The proposal would affect all federal funding except Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits. Republicans said this would save $4.5 billion by eliminating waste and fraud; the White House said it would force layoffs of 39,000 military personnel and curtail federal aid to thousands of civilians.

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The Senate went on record supporting the Supreme Court's 1973 decision to legalize abortion, even as it passed a bill that would outlaw a certain late-term abortion procedure. The nonbinding resolution, passed on a 51-to-47 vote, was attached to an abortion bill that passed 63 to 34 - four votes short of what would be needed to overcome a promised veto by Clinton. The bill would allow the late-term procedure only when a woman's life is endangered. The president wants the exception to apply if a woman's health is in danger.

The two Democratic presidential candidates gained ground on GOP front-runner George W. Bush in the latest nationwide poll of registered voters, conducted by Newsweek. Bush received 49 percent of the respondents' support to 40 percent for Vice President Al Gore, after leading him by 16 points in a Newsweek survey in June. Former Sen. Bill Bradley gained even more ground on Bush. The Texas governor outpolled Bradley by only five percentage points - 47 percent to 42 percent. In June, Bush led Bradley by 24 points.

Another wet winter in the Northwest - and another dry one in the Southwest - was predicted by scientists at the federal Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, Calif., after new evidence of La Nia appeared in the Pacific. The scientists said high sea-surface heights and warm temperatures in the West Pacific, contrasting with low heights and cool conditions in the eastern and equatorial Pacific, had been detected by a US-French satellite. La Nia conditions have persisted for most of the past 2-1/2 years.

Louisiana Gov. Murphy "Mike" Foster (R) easily won reelection, gathering 62 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Rep. William Jefferson (D). Under the state's open-primary system, candidates of all parties run at the same time. Anyone receiving 50 percent of the ballots plus one is declared a winner.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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