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News Briefs

Lawmakers Assured of Fair Probe Regarding CIA and Drugs

The Washington Post

CIA Director John M. Deutch Thursday traveled to Capitol Hill to personally assure members of the Congressional Black Caucus that an independent investigator will pursue allegations that the CIA was instrumental in introducing crack cocaine into black communities in the 1980s.

The meeting, which lasted nearly an hour, seemed to satisfy members of the caucus. They said they have been receiving thousands of phone calls and faxes from their constituents on the issue since it was raised in a newspaper series last month.

"His willingness and openness seem to be pointing in the right direction," said Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., chairman of the caucus, as he emerged from the meeting in his office with Deutch and about a dozen caucus members. "But this is just a first step."

Deutch, who has strongly denied the allegations, repeated an earlier, written pledge that the CIA's inspector general would perform a full investigation and promised the inquiry will receive his full cooperation and access to agency records, according to caucus members.

The black caucus last week called for a congressional investigation after articles appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. The caucus also has asked President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno to launch probes.

Republicans Prevent Disclosure Of Ethics Report on Gingrich

Los Angeles Times

House Republicans Thursday fended off a Democratic effort to force disclosure of a preliminary report on alleged ethics violations by Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.

The 225-179 vote, split largely along party lines, killed a measure that would have required immediate public disclosure of a special counsel's initial findings in a two-year investigation of Gingrich's use of a tax-exempt, non-profit foundation to finance a college course that he taught in Georgia. Critics and political opponents argued that Gingrich acted improperly by using the money because the course was more politically partisan than educational.

While no one expected the measure - offered by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. - to clear the House, Democrats pushed for the roll call vote to compel GOP incumbents into a vote of support for Gingrich, who polls show is unpopular among many voters.

James Cole, the committee's special counsel, last month delivered a preliminary report to the Ethics Committee, which has not been publicly released.

House Minority Whip David E. Bonior, D-Mich., said at a news conference before the vote that Democrats wanted the results of the partial report revealed before election day on Nov. 5.

House Overrides Veto of Bill Banning Late Abortion Procedure

Los Angeles Times

In a stunning reversal, abortion foes in the House of Representatives voted Thursday to override President Clinton's veto of a bill that would outlaw a late-term abortion procedure denounced by its critics as infanticide.

In a 285-137 vote, House lawmakers rejected arguments that the ban would deny women who are experiencing crises pregnancies access to a procedure that could protect their health and future fertility. Opponents said the procedure is grotesque and brings a painful end to a life.

The measure is unlikely to become law, however, because the effort to override must also succeed in the Senate, where mustering the two-thirds majority required appears far more difficult. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the upper chamber will vote on the issue as early as next Thursday but acknowledged that "it would be hard to override it."