HOUSE

Hostage Benefits

By voice vote, the Foreign Affairs Committee approved a measure to compensate military and civilian government employes taken hostage by terrorists while on government business. The bill would let the government place hostages' salaries in interest-bearing accounts, grant hostages a per diem allowance for each day of captivity and provide educational and medical benefits and disability or death compensation to hostages and their families. (HR2851; Oct. 29)

Low-level Nuclear Waste

The Energy and Commerce Committee approved, by voice vote, legislation that would give most states until 1993 to begin disposing of their low-level nuclear waste through regional facilities. The measure would require states to meet strict deadlines for building about a dozen regional facilities or risk losing access to the three current sites in South Carolina, Nevada and Washington. The bill is similar to one passed by the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee in July but includes an emergency provision allowing a state that misses a deadline continued access if it shows that undisposed waste might create a health hazard. (HR1083; Oct. 29)

Legislative Branch Funds

By 251 to 164, the House approved a spending bill that would give Congress and legislative branch agencies $1.6 billion for operating expenditures for fiscal 1986, the same amount as last year. The total includes $448 million for House operations, $291 million for Senate operations, $301 million for the General Accounting Office and $180 million for the Library of Congress. The measure would freeze congressional staff salaries at last year's level. (HR2942; Oct. 29)

Nuclear Liability

The Interior energy subcommittee agreed to draft legislation that would increase the nuclear power industry's potential liability for accident damage from the current $640 million to about $10 billion. The measure would also raise from $5 million to $100 million the amount licensed nuclear plants may have to contribute to pay accident claims. There are currently 96 nuclear power plants nationwide. (Bill unnumbered; Oct. 29)

Mentally Ill

By 17 to 7, the Energy and Commerce committee approved legislation that would provide $33 million over three years for independent state programs to protect the rights of mentally ill patients in institutions. The measure would also require the secretary of health and human services to set up network support groups for families of Alzheimer's disease victims. A similar bill passed the Senate in July. The proposed programs are similar to a current federal program that provides funds to protect mentally retarded children. (HR3492; Oct. 29)

Student Loans

An Education and Labor subcommittee approved a proposal that would raise the annual limit a college graduate student can borrow under the federal guaranteed student loan program from $5,000 to $8,000. The panel also approved, 11 to 8, a plan that would increase the interest rate for loan payments from 8 to 10 percent after the fourth year of repayment. (Bill unnumbered; Oct. 29) SENATE

Senate Television

The Rules Committee approved, 8 to 1, a measure that would permit in-house television broadcasts of Senate proceedings on a trial basis, probably for three to six months. The measure would permit immediate public radio broadcasts. The TV broadcasts would be shown only in the Capitol and congressional office buildings. After the trial period, the Rules Committee would recommend whether to make the TV broadcasts public and whether to continue radio broadcasts. The House has had public TV broadcasts since March 1979. (SRes28; Oct. 29)

Veterans' Benefits

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved by voice vote legislation that would provide a 3.1 percent cost-of-living increase in fiscal 1986 for veterans' disability compensation and surviviors' benefits, the same rate approved by the House and used for Social Security benefit increases. The committee also approved proposals that would allow veterans to use education benefits for job training programs and make improvements in the home-loan guarantee program. By voice vote, the committee cut $55 million for a job training program for Vietnam veterans. (S1788 and other bills; Oct. 31)

Foreign Aid

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $14.8 billion foreign aid spending bill that would provide about $3 billion in military and economic assistance to Israel and limit the amount of military aid the administration can give to Jordan at $95 million unless Congress approved additional funds. Egypt would receive $2.3 billion in assistance under the bill. Other provisions would reduce the interest rate Israel must pay on past military loans and provide $70 million in military aid to the Philippines. A subcommittee earlier approved $115 million for a special aid fund to Egypt, but it rejected an additional $85 million for the fund after several senators protested Egypt's action after the hijacking of an Italian cruise liner. (HR3228; Oct.31)

New Appeals Court

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on courts approved legislation that would create a new appeals court to ease the growing caseload of the Supreme Court. The bill, approved 5 to 1, would authorize the panel for five years. The Supreme Court would pick the nine judges and four alternates from a pool of current presidentially appointed judges of lower courts. The measure would not require Senate confirmation of new judges and would not place restrictions on what cases the new court could handle. (S704; Oct. 30)