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News briefs

Clinton's Economic Stimulus Suffers Early Losses in Senate

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Several conservative Senate Democrats agreed Monday to drop their opposition to President Clinton's $16.3 billion stimulus package, but soon afterward the president suffered an important defection and then lost to the Republicans on an important test vote.

Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), generally viewed as a Clinton ally, announced Monday he would oppose the spending part of stimulus package, describing it as a sop to special interest groups that would undermine efforts to reduce the deficit.

By passing the legislation, he said, "We lose the edge we need as representatives to say no."

"Lobbyists have their hands at our throats while we have our hands in their pockets," he said during a floor speech.

Later, the Democratic leadership fell four votes short in an attempt to prevent consideration of an amendment offered by Sen. Hank Brown (R-Colo.) to prohibit localities from using funds in the stimulus package for 54 specific projects that the Republicans call pork-barrel spending.

Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd (D-W.<\f>Va.) urged Democrats to oppose the amendment, arguing that the projects listed, while under consideration by local officials, were not listed in the bill. They warned that the amendment was another GOP attempt to undermine the package.

Treasury Secretary's Son Agrees To Pay Half of RTC Debt

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Lan Bentsen, son of Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, has agreed to pay about half of the $54 million in debts that ventures he controls owe the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency that cleans up failed savings and loans.

Terms of the settlement call for Lan Bentsen, a Texas real estate investor, to pay the RTC $3.4 million and to turn over his interests in a number of real estate projects that bring the total recovery to $28 million.

The settlement was reached in February and made public under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Washington Post.

Bentsen's debts to the RTC are the result of a series of real estate investments he made during the early 1980s using money borrowed from University Savings Association in Houston, whose bad debts have been taken on by the RTC.

Many Ideas for Health Reform, But Not for Its Funding

Newsday

WASHINGTON

For 13 hours Monday, the disparate interests with a stake in national health care reform offered a panoply of ideas to the Clinton administration about how to overhaul the ailing $940 billion system. But they managed to leave the most intractable question of all -- how to control health spending and still pay for expanded coverage for all -- as vexing as it was before they came.

At the first public meeting of the White House task force on health reform, nobody seemed eager to bite the cost bullets that are being considered by the administration.

Doctors said short-term price controls on their fees would be a disaster. Small businesses said that being forced to pay for employee health coverage would devastate them. Drug companies argued that capping drug prices would be discriminatory. Insurance companies said that charging the same rates across a region, which some analysts consider a cost-saver, would in many cases actually increase premiums.

Much of it had been heard before, in scores of private conversations the White House has had with many of the 65 groups that participated. But this was official, on the record. And despite warnings by Vice President Al Gore that compromise is a must, many of the groups, at least for now, seemed in no mood for it.

Weather

Raindrops Keep Falling

By Arnold Seto
Staff Meteorologist

A very slow-moving storm hovering over New England will continue to give us light showers through early tonight. With the ground so saturated from the recent rains and the snow melt, there exists a possibility for street and river flooding. The National Weather Service has extended yesterday's flood watch through today. The clouds will break slightly tonight and lead to mostly sunny skies tomorrow as the low pressure system moves farther offshore. A system currently over Texas is projected to hit the mid-Atlantic states on Thursday; we may receive some rain if it moves farther north than expected. Winds will be relatively light all week.

Today: Overcast with showers, periodically heavy. Winds will be out of the north, 10-15 mph (16-24 kph). High 43-49F (6-9C).

Tonight: Drizzle early. Broken clouds will moderate temperatures. Winds north, 10-15 mph. Low 40-43F (4-6C).

Tomorrow: Scattered clouds. Winds northwest 10-15 mph (16-24 kph). High 47-52F (8-11C). Low 32-40F (0-4C).

Thursday: Chance of rain. Cloudier and cooler. Winds east, 10-20 mph (16-32 kph). High in the low 40s (4-7C). Low 25-35F (-4-2C).