After a 10-day break, President Bush returned to Washington for what promises to be an intense month at the White House. At the top of his agenda is a Cabinet meeting Monday to hammer out final details of an economic-stimulus plan which is expected to cost $600 billion over 10 years. Bush is scheduled to announce the plan in Chicago Tuesday. But it will be a tough sell. Key Democrats at the weekend pledged to put forward their own initiative, characterizing the president's as one that would help the wealthy without reviving the economy.
Also on the domestic front, Bush will ask Congress to boost education aid to poor students by $1 billion next year. In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush said too many students and low-income families fall behind early, "resulting in a terrible gap in test scores between those students and their more fortunate peers." But Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts dismissed the proposal as "pocket change."
Unfinished business will occupy the 108th Congress when it convenes tomorrow with Republicans in control of both chambers. Lawmakers are looking to tie up loose ends left over from last year, including the federal budget, extending unemployment benefits, confirming judges, and helping the lackluster economy. The first order of business is likely to be passage of a stopgap funding bill to finance the government through January. The new Congress is characterized by its historymaking and mostly new cast of leading actors, including new House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California. She's the first woman to hold such a senior position in Congress.
US Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri announced his candidacy for president in the 2004 election, promising to lead the country in a new direction and blasting Bush for failing to secure the nation's economic and domestic security. It will be the second presidential run for the legislator, whose 1988 bid ended after an early victory in Iowa.
As part of a broad mobilization of air, land, and sea forces for a possible invasion of Iraq, the US Navy's hospital ship Comfort will set sail Monday from Baltimore for the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. The 1,000-bed ship, painted white with red crosses, has a crew of 225 Navy personnel and 61 civilian medical staffers. Experts are predicting minimal US casualties in any assault on Iraq due to the technological superiority of US forces.
The FAA is investigating reports that a China Airways jetliner flew within 30 feet of a 41-story residential building in Honolulu. One of the Boeing 747's wings reportedly passed over a fourth-floor recreation deck as it approached Honolulu International Airport.