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News Briefs II

House No-Cameras Rule Under Fire From Republican Party

The Washington Post

For 40 years, subpoenaed witnesses being grilled by House lawmakers have had the option of insisting that the television cameras and radio microphones be turned off.

That rarely invoked privilege, formalized as a House rule in 1970, is now under assault by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., who is heading the investigation of campaign fund-raising abuses. As the House moved toward a vote on the issue Thursday night, some Democrats argued that junking the rule would evoke the worst excesses of the McCarthy era.

Democrats were quick to cite a bit of history: In 1957, a young cancer researcher named William K. Sherwood swallowed poison two days before he was to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. His suicide note said he had a "fierce resentment of being televised."

After Sherwood's widow sued the House, then-Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, granted subpoenaed witnesses the right to pull the plug on the cameras.

But the networks have always hated the policy. When the House Rules Committee voted 7 to 2 Wednesday to rescind the rule, Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, hailed the vote as a "tremendous victory."

Congress Mulls Deal That Would Ease Green Card Restrictions

Los Angeles Times

Illegal immigrants with pending visa applications would be able to pay $1,000 and obtain their green cards while remaining in the United States under a deal congressional leaders were close to reaching Thursday, sources close to the process said.

While the proposal could help 1 million to 3 million people who have their petitions on file with the Justice Department, those who have not applied by the time the legislation is signed - perhaps as early as this weekend - would have to return to their home countries to obtain the green cards needed for permanent residency and could be barred from re-entering the United States for three or 10 years.

Illegal immigrants whose work visas had been expired for less than 90 consecutive days, or 180 days total, also would be able to obtain permanent residency without leaving as well.

Immigration advocates offered mixed reviews of the deal, which was not available in writing late Thursday and may yet be in flux.

The proposal falls far short of the Senate-passed permanent extension of 245(i), the provision that lets illegal immigrants pay a $1,000 fine and avoid deportation and would expire at midnight Friday without congressional action. But the proposed deal would grandfather in anyone who has a pending application.