In a 64-to-35 vote Tuesday, the Senate decided to jump-start a stalled immigration bill to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants. President Bush expressed optimism that the law could be passed by week's end, but gaining the approval of GOP conservatives and waverers in both parties promises to be a challenge.

The Consumer Confidence Index fell almost five points in May, reaching its lowest level (103.9) in almost a year, the private, New York-based Conference Board reported Tuesday. Worries about jobs were cited as a factor in the drop. Meanwhile, the sales of new single-family homes fell 1.6 percent, the Commerce Department said.

The American Medical Association urged federal authorities Monday to investigate the growing trend that finds drug-store chains both writing and filling prescriptions. The AMA believes retail health clinics offered in CVS/Caremark, Wal-Mart, and Walgreen stores present a conflict of interest.

In a blunt assessment of President Bush's Iraq strategy by a fellow Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana said Tuesday that the current plan isn't working and that the US should downsize its military role. Until now, most Republicans have said they were willing to wait until September to see how the troop buildup in Iraq was working.

Christie Whitman (above), the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, withstood stinging criticism of the EPA's handling of the post-9/11 cleanup in New York during a congres-sional hearing Monday. Critics slammed Whitman's administration for giving people a false sense of safety about the polluted air at the World Trade Center site. Whitman maintained that government workers were warned to wear respirators.

The US Conference of Mayors, at their annual meeting in Los Angeles, narrowly adopted a largely symbolic resolution Monday, calling for a "swift and prudent redeployment" of US troops from Iraq.

The US Forest Service said it had a California wildfire near Lake Tahoe 40 percent contained Monday, but believes that full containment of the blaze, which has consumed 2,500 acres, could take the rest of the week. Above, a couple evacuated from their home, watched television coverage of the fire.

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