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Elizabeth Dole pulled the plug on her bid for the White House. The former Cabinet secretary said she could not compete with the fund-raising juggernaut of Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Dole, who made the announcement at hotel in Washington, is the fourth Republican candidate to leave the 2000 presidential field.

For the third time in two years, campaign-finance reform won a Senate majority, but fell short of the votes needed to break a Republican-led filibuster and gain direct balloting on the issue. The vote to force consideration of a bill passed last month by the House - which includes broad revisions of fund-raising laws - fell short of the needed 60 votes (52 to 48), along party lines. A vote to bring a narrower bill containing a ban on "soft money" donations to the Senate floor failed 53 to 47.

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White House officials and Congress budget writers began an intense one-week bid to resolve their differences on overdue spending bills for fiscal 2000. If they don't, administration officials said the president might veto a $268 billion defense bill, a step that could increase his leverage by adding it to measures from which savings could be extracted to pay for increases elsewhere in the budget. Clinton said he would sign a bill covering veterans, housing, and environmental programs, but five others either have been vetoed or face veto threats.

A bill that would extend a string of popular business and personal tax breaks was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee. The $8.5 billion measure would renew research and development credits, welfare-to-work credits, and other business breaks through Dec. 31, 2000 - and exempt individual personal credits from counting toward alternative minimum taxes for the next two years.

No single ethnic group will constitute a majority in California next year, according to a new state forecast. Previous estimates by the Census Bureau had predicted California would become a "majority minority" state by the year 2005. But a California Research Bureau update said minorities - Latinos, Asians, blacks, and American Indians - would probably constitute half the Golden State's residents next year.

Former Sen. Bill Bradley proposed six debates with Vice President Al Gore in December and January. The announcement followed a challenge from Gore for debates every two weeks. The Gore campaign once again accused Bradley of trying to avoid debates, saying it had already accepted invitations to three of the six dates cited by the former New Jersey senator.

The House passed a bill that would allow Social Security disability insurance beneficiaries to keep Medicare coverage for up to 10 years after getting a job - six years beyond the current limit. The Senate has passed a similar bill, and Clinton is apparently eager to sign such a measure. Auditors estimate the legislation would help 35,000 people find jobs over the next 10 years.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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