News In Brief
Monica Lewinsky was to begin her long-awaited appearance before the grand jury in Washington, which could define the future course of the Clinton administration. White House officials said they hoped it was a sign that a four-year investigation headed by independent counsel Kenneth Starr was finally coming to an end.
The House voted to tighten controls on Justice Department prosecutors, including independent counsels. It approved a plan that would order US prosecutors to comply with ethical standards of the states in which they operate and to set up an independent board to review complaints about prosecutors' conduct. Some Democrats took the opportunity to criticize Kenneth Starr.
The House upheld a ban on discrimination against homosexuals in federal jobs. A number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Joel Hefley (R) of Colorado which would have blocked an executive order against discrimination over sexual preference in hiring, firing, and promoting US employees. It was defeated 252 to 176.
The House passed a GOP bill that might be used to block the use of a statistical sampling in the 2000 census. The measure earmarks $952 million for the Census Bureau in fiscal year 1999, but withholds half the money until Congress decides sometime after March 31 to release it. Critics of the measure said half the funds may be held hostage unless the bureau drops plans to use statistical sampling, which some experts say is more accurate than traditional methods of counting minorities, poor people, and children.
Plans for exploring and developing Alaskan oil and gas resources in the northeast quadrant of the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve were expected to be unveiled by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Environmentalists who want to prohibit exploration in the entire reserve say that, with oil prices low, there is no reason to use the energy resource now.
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