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WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Thursday, April 7, 2005; Page A11

Speaker's Kidney Stones

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was admitted to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda yesterday a routine procedure to remove kidney stones, his office said in a statement.

Hastert's spokesman, Ron Bonjean, said the House leader was expected to undergo surgery and predicted a speedy recovery.

Hastert, 63, had been scheduled to leave last night for Rome as the head of a 26-member House delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

U.N. Faces U.S. Cut

The Senate voted yesterday to reduce the U.S. share of the cost of U.N. peacekeeping missions, reflecting congressional criticism of the United Nations after allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the oil-for-food program for Iraq, sexual abuses by peacekeepers and other scandals.

U.S. dues are capped at 27.1 percent of the peacekeeping budget. Under a 1994 law, that cap is to be reduced to 25 percent. The Bush administration -- with the support of Democrats -- asked that the cap be maintained at 27.1 percent. A Democratic proposal to keep the higher cap was defeated 57 to 40, mostly along party lines.

The United States is expected to spend about $1 billion on U.N. peacekeeping operations this year, with much of the money for activities in Sudan and Haiti. The administration is seeking about the same amount for next year. Reducing the cap could result in a cut of roughly $75 million.

Bolton Hearing Deferred

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a confirmation hearing for John R. Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and in return it won a commitment from Democrats to vote next week.

Bolton's hearing, which had been scheduled for today, was moved to Monday to allow lawmakers to travel to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, said Andy Fisher, spokesman for the committee chairman, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).

A Social Security What-If

A Social Security plan similar to one once under White House consideration would be likely to eliminate the traditional Social Security benefit in the future, leaving retirees with only the balances in their personal investment accounts, a Congressional Research Service report concluded.

The CRS study, requested by congressional Democrats, is quick to note that it is examining a hypothetical Social Security restructuring, not any proposal President Bush has laid out.

Bush has not described how he would cut Social Security benefits to ensure that the system remains solvent later this century.

-- Compiled from reports by

staff writer Jonathan Weisman

and news services


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