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News Briefs 2

Women in Congress, Others Appeal to Welfare Conferees

The Washington Post

Nearly half of the women in Congress urged lawmakers drafting a final welfare bill Monday to provide enough money for child care and require states to continue to shoulder a fair share of the responsibility for helping the poor.

The 26 female legislators, in a letter to the members of the House and Senate conference committee on welfare, said that they have a "particular interest" in the issue because roughly 90 percent of the families on welfare are headed by women. They asked the conferees to keep intact the school lunch program, nutrition aid for pregnant women and babies, foster care and adoption assistance.

The House and Senate have passed differing bills to overhaul the nation's welfare programs by turning them over to the states to run and providing a lump sum payment called a block grant. The House has named its conference members to work out differences between the bills; the Senate may do so Tuesday, according to a Finance Committee spokeswoman.

The House would cut off SSI cash assistance to more than 200,000 children and replace it with vouchers for medical goods and services. Many members say the program has been abused. The Senate would retain cash assistance for more children.

Soldier May Be Discharged For Refusing to Wear U.N. Colors

The Baltimore Sun

A U.S. Army soldier who refused to wear the blue insignia of the United Nations has declined his commander's offer of administrative punishment, opening the way for a possible court martial or his discharge.

Spec. Michael New appeared before Lt. Col. Stephen Layfield, commander of the 15th Infantry Battalion, in Schweinfurt, Germany, Monday and rejected non-judicial punishment, a lesser form of military discipline than a court martial.

The 22-year-old medic told the officer he wanted legal representation and a public hearing, according to his legal adviser in the United States. The Army will now have to decide what to do with him.

His claim that he enlisted to serve in the U.S. Army, not the United Nations, has attracted support from more than 40 conservative Republicans in Congress.

The Congressmen have written to President Clinton demanding the administration's legal and constitutional authority for ordering U.S. troops like specialist New to serve under U.N. colors and officers.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Ron Ray, a Kentucky attorney who is the New family's legal adviser, said the Army initially began processing New for administrative discharge after he refused to wear the blue U.N. patch and cap last week. His 550-member unit is being deployed on a U.N. mission to Macedonia, a republic of the former Yugoslavia, later this month.

The Army abruptly suspended the discharge proceedings last week and offered him non-judicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.