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News Briefs I

Democratic Calls for Compromise On Financing Abuses Rejected

The Washington Post

Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred D. Thompson, R-Tenn., Thursday rejected Democratic calls for a compromise over funding for the panel's investigation of campaign-financing abuses, saying his proposed budget of $6.5 million is needed to assure a thorough inquiry into issues raised by Democrats as well as Republicans.

"I stand behind that budget. I will not relent," Thompson told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over committee spending, including special investigatory budgets.

In what appeared to be a hardening of the partisan impasse over funding for the investigation, Democrats continued to object to Thompson's proposal, saying $1.8 million - the sum spent on last year's Whitewater inquiry - would be sufficient, at least as a first installment.

Nerves were further frayed when Thompson appeared to suggest Democrats were trying to "hamstring" the investigation. "The entire focus should not be - if we're really concerned about the integrity of our government - on figuring out every way of hamstringing our going forward," he said. Sen. John Glenn, Ohio, ranking committee Democrat, bristled and said he was not trying to "hamstring" anything, and Thompson said he was not talking about any Democrats on the committee.

State Department Says Bosnia Assures Ties Broken with Iran

Los Angeles Times

The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina has assured the United States that it has severed all military and intelligence relationships with Iran, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Thursday.

Burns was responding to a story in The Los Angeles Times quoting U.S. intelligence sources saying that Bosnia's Muslim government is in the process of setting up an underground intelligence service run by Hasan Cengic, a former deputy defense minister with close links to Tehran.

"That was a very interesting story in The Times, but a lot of it had quoted intelligence sources, and I can't talk about intelligence sources or intelligence issues. We never do that in a public forum," Burns said.

But Burns did say the Bosnian government "is not conducting, we believe, an operational intelligence program with the Iranian government or a military assistance program with the Iranian government."

Clinton Seeks to Restore Benefits To Legal Immigrants

Los Angeles Times

President Clinton's fiscal 1997 budget calls for restoring welfare benefits, Medicaid, and food stamps for disabled legal immigrants, saying immigrants were touched "more adversely than any other group" by last year's welfare reform legislation.

Although the Republican-controlled Congress opposes the idea, Clinton's budget plan would keep on the rolls an estimated 350,000 of the 500,000 immigrants scheduled to lose their benefits in August and September. Clinton wants to spend $9.7 billion to restore the benefits.

But the proposal faces tough going in the Congress, where Republican leaders are opposed changes in the welfare bill, which ordered an end to all benefits for legal immigrants.

Rep. E. Clay Shaw, R-Fla., a leading architect of the welfare bill, predicted Thursday that Congress will not change the law, but might consider approving a bloc grant or other special funding for states heavily affected by the problem.

"I want to be careful not to completely slam the door shut and say we won't spend another dime," Shaw said. "There may be some transitional funding that might appear reasonable as we go through the process."