Correction to This Article
A Feb. 9 Washington in Brief item incorrectly said that it was a House clerk who scribbled out a notation in a congressional budget measure. It was a Senate clerk.

WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Usually the president signs a bill and that's that. In Washington, however, nothing is ever that easy.

The budget legislation that President Bush signed yesterday reached its seeming conclusion amid confusion. On a provision regarding Medicare reimbursements for oxygen tanks, the Senate bill specified a time frame of 13 months. When the bill was sent to the House last month, the clerk wrote "36 months." The House then passed the bill with the "36 months" language. When the mistake was discovered, a House clerk scribbled out "36 months" and wrote in "13 months."

Now there are questions about the legality of signing a bill the House technically did not pass.

Mississippi GOP Counsel Named to Appeals Court

President Bush last night nominated a Mississippi litigator who was instrumental in the fight to win tax-exempt status for racially discriminatory Bob Jones University in the early 1980s for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

The White House named Jackson lawyer Michael B. Wallace, general counsel of the Mississippi Republican Party, to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Charles W. Pickering Sr. The nomination drew fire from liberal advocates, who view Wallace as hostile to civil rights.

Wallace, 55, is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Virginia law school. He was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1977 to 1978 before working as chief counsel to then-Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) in the early 1980s. Wallace was credited with crafting the legal strategy for Lott's lobbying of the Reagan administration to reverse a policy barring racially exclusive schools from receiving tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Report Detailed FEMA's Woes Before Hurricane

As FEMA director, Michael D. Brown was told five months before Hurricane Katrina that the agency's disaster plans, procedures, people and technology were inadequate and should be revised, documents show.

Also, a letter from Brown's attorney to the White House, obtained by The Washington Post, indicates he will testify before the Senate on Friday about his interactions with President Bush and top aides unless the White House bars him and offers a legal defense.

A 26-page Mitre Corp. presentation to Brown in March 2005 described breakdowns at headquarters, regional and operations levels in FEMA's emergency planning and response office.

Briefly

· NASA, accused by some scientists of censoring communications on global warming and other issues, pledged again to ensure "open and full communications." The statement came a day after public affairs official George Deutsch quit after the New York Times and the Web site Scientific Activist reported that Deutsch, who worked on President Bush's reelection campaign, lied about having a college degree.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

Briefly

· NASA, accused by some scientists of censoring communications on global warming and other issues, pledged again to ensure "open and full communications." The statement came a day after public affairs official George Deutsch quit after the New York Times and the Web site Scientific Activist reported that Deutsch, who worked on President Bush's reelection campaign, lied about having a college degree.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services


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