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News Briefs

White House May Put Off Health Care Action Until Next Year

Los Angeles Times

The White House is nearing a conclusion that action on meaningful health care reform is all but impossible this year and has begun laying the groundwork for moving the debate into the next session of Congress, according to administration and congressional sources.

Even though officials continue to voice hope that Senate leaders can craft a workable compromise from two competing health care reform plans, time and tempers are growing short on Capitol Hill. The House already has left town after its rancorous debate on the crime bill, which is now stalled in the Senate, and there has been virtually no progress in recent weeks toward consensus on health care.

President Clinton remains determined not to settle for half steps on health care, which he believes may do more harm than good and doom chances for the sweeping reformation of the American health care system that he wants.

Unless the Senate can surmount numerous obstacles in the next few days and produce a bipartisan plan that makes significant progress toward universal health care coverage, the White House is prepared reluctantly to call it quits for this year, officials said.

Clinton has discussed the prospect of suspending the health care debate until next year with several influential senators who share his concern about the chances of passing an even minimally acceptable bill this year.

Chavis Loses Bid to Get Job Back, But Will Negotiate Severance Soon

The Baltimore Sun

Fired NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. lost his court bid Wednesday to get his job back, but NAACP lawyers said they would meet with him soon to negotiate severance.

Superior Court Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr. refused to order the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to reinstate the ousted leader. Chavis alleged that the NAACP board violated its bylaws when it dismissed him Saturday.

The judge said the Chavis-NAACP case was essentially a contract dispute. He suggested that Chavis' recourse was not to seek a temporary restraining order, but to sue the NAACP for breach of contract.

Chavis vowed to keep fighting in court to block his firing, and a Sept. 2 hearing was set. But then he said he hoped to "avert a full-blown court battle."

"All I want is fair treatment," Chavis told reporters outside the courthouse. "I want my civil rights respected by the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization."

When Chavis was fired, he lost a job with a $200,000-a-year base salary, cost-of-living and merit pay increases, free health and life insurance, a housing allowance, and travel and entertainment expenses while on NAACP business. His three-year contract, which many NAACP board members have never seen, was made part of the court record.

For the 46-year-old minister, who made $64,000 in 1991 as executive director of the United Church of Christ's Commission for Racial Justice, moving to the NAACP was a giant step up in pay and perks.