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News Briefs

Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bills Seeking Drugs From Canada

By John M. Broder

The New York Times LOS ANGELES

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed several bills on Thursday that would have made the state the middleman in large-scale consumer purchases of prescription drugs from Canada.

Schwarzenegger said the bills were illegal under federal law and did not have adequate provisions to ensure the safety of imported medicine. He said he was addressing the high cost of medications by negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies to win discounts for the estimated 4 million low-income Californians who do not have prescription drug coverage.

In his veto message on the main bill, which would have set up a state-run Web site to help consumers find discount drugs in Canada, the Republican governor told the Democratic-controlled Legislature that such measures “oversimplify the complex safety, trade, supply and pricing issues involved in the marketplace.” He said he shared the sponsors’ concerns about high drug prices and pledged to introduce legislation next year that would enshrine in law his approach to lowering costs for the state’s poorest residents.

9/11 Commissioners Say Bill’s Added Provisions Are Harmful

By Carl Hulse

The New York Times WASHINGTON

Members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks called on the House Republican leadership on Thursday to jettison controversial provisions tacked onto an emerging measure to reorganize U.S. intelligence agencies. They said the add-ons threatened enactment of the legislation.

“We respectfully submit that consideration of controversial provisions at this late hour can harm our shared purpose of getting a good bill to the president before the 108th Congress adjourns,” Lee Hamilton, the vice chairman of the panel, told reporters.

The commissioners were backed in their call by relatives of those killed in the terror attacks, a number of House Democrats and a few Republicans who said they were worried that what they considered extraneous proposals on law enforcement and immigration, among other issues, could short-circuit the legislation.

“I have concerns that some on my side of the aisle want there to be some poison pills,” said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who is pushing instead for a vote on his measure, which converts the recommendations of the Sept. 11 panel into law.

EPA Is Faulted On Revised Air Rules

By Michael Janofsky

The New York Times WASHINGTON

In a rebuke of the Bush administration, the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that legal actions against major polluters had stalled because of the agency’s decision to revise rules governing emissions at older coal-fired power plants.

The inspector general, Nikki L. Tinsley, took direct aim at the administration’s revision of the New Source Review rule, one of the administration’s most prominent -- and vilified -- environmental initiatives, saying it makes it much easier for power plant operators to postpone or avoid adding technologies that would reduce polluting emissions.

The revised rule, made final last year, has not been put in effect yet because of legal challenges. But the report concludes that just by issuing the rule, which scuttled the enforcement approach of the Clinton administration, the agency has “seriously hampered” its ability to settle cases and pursue new ones.

Tinsley’s report serves as a sharp challenge to Jeffrey R. Holmstead, an assistant EPA administrator who has been the agency’s leading proponent of the new rule.