The House, in the final week of its current session before the presidential conventions and a month-long recess, passed 36 bills Tuesday. Most of the legislation was noncontroversial, brought up under a procedure that limits debate time. Among the bills:
*A five-year, $6 billion measure, which passed 394 to 27, outlines tax breaks and other incentives to boost business investment and housing development in some 40 poor communities that haven't benefited from the booming economy.
*A "two strikes, you're out" bill, passed by a voice vote, stipulates a mandatory life sentence for a second sex offense against a child.
*Several aimed at helping veterans by improving disability benefits and making it easier to file claims.
After George W. Bush officially named Dick Cheney his running mate Tuesday, the pair indicated plans for joint appearances on the campaign trail before the Republican National Convention opens Monday. With Bush's choice formalized, Democrats attacked Cheney's conservative ideology in an effort to portray the Republican ticket as right-wing. But Cheney, whose partnership with the Texas governor marks a return to political life, said he's proud of his voting record while he was a Wyoming congressman.
On the Democratic side of the campaign, Vice President Gore proposed a $2.7 billion package aimed at improving programs for disabled Americans. Speaking to activists in Washington, he called for increased funding, tax credits, new research, and better enforcement to help those with disabilities secure employment. The proposal came a day before planned celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Microsoft filed an appeal with the Supreme Court aimed at sending its antitrust battle with the government to a lower appeals court. The Justice Department is trying to move the case directly to the nation's highest court. The software giant is appealing the decision of district Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that it be split in two.
A group of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs concluded three days of talks outside Washington - a retreat that was billed as the first time the region's leaders directly discussed their divisions and ways to overcome them. The parties agreed to launch a "Campaign Against Violence," a new initiative that will include efforts to promote tolerance, condemn violence, and further "the physical integration and political participation by all." Ethnic strife persists in Kosovo more than a year after the US-led air war over Yugoslavia ended and peacekeeping troops entered the area.
A 1,300-member union for prison guards in Rhode Island, angry over a four-year contract dispute, went on an illegal strike. But a state police official said the correctional facilities were secure, because some overnight workers apparently weren't walking off the job. The state could seek an injunction to stop the strike since the sides are under binding arbitration.
A cluster of tornadoes ripped through part of Minnesota, killing one person, injuring about 15 others, and tearing up 300 to 350 homes, authorities said. One of the hardest-hit areas was Granite Falls, a town of about 3,000.
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