Budget disputes between Congress and the White House became even more bitter as President Clinton vetoed a key spending bill that included a pay raise for lawmakers. The move raised the likelihood that Congress will have to return after election day for a lame-duck session. Clinton blocked the $33 billion Treasury bill after Republicans rejected a tentative compromise on a separate measure for schools, labor, and social programs. The sequence of legislation, Clinton alleged, was not focusing "on the priorities of the American people." Republicans said they felt betrayed because Clinton had suggested he'd sign the Treasury bill after they agreed to include one of his key demands.
With many states still up for grabs, Al Gore and George W. Bush, and their political parties, planned to spend more than $30 million on television ads in the final week of the presidential campaign. The candidates also mapped out their remaining campaign stops, with both counting on appearances in California to win that state's 54 electoral votes. Oregon and Washington were also prime stumping grounds, along with Great Lakes states.
Of several gay-related measures that four states are voting on next Tuesday, the one appearing to divide voters the most was an issue in Oregon involving education. Measure 9 would bar classroom instruction "encouraging, promoting, sanctioning" homosexuality or bisexuality. Also on ballots are Nebraska and Nevada proposals, which follow the lead of other states, to amend their constitutions to say only marriage between a man and woman is valid. And Maine will decide whether to adopt explicit civil rights protections for gays, as 11 states and the District of Columbia have.
Texas Baptists dealt a serious blow to the Southern Baptist Convention, withdrawing $5 million in funding on the grounds that the denomination is becoming too conservative. The move is seen as a watershed by both sides. In recent years, Southern Baptists have barred female pastors, boycotted Disney World, and issued resolutions condemning homosexuality.
The Supreme Court, closely divided on a series of rulings curbing federal powers, was to hear a case on Illinois-wetlands protection that could turn into a showdown over the importance of local versus federal control. Two dozen interest groups have filed friend-of-the-court papers, including People for the American Way, who warned that the court risks undermining the federal civil rights protections that Americans now expect.
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