Inhofe Aides Download `Inappropriate Material'

A conservative senator who threatened to block Clinton administration nominations for key positions because of the appointment of a homosexual envoy faces embarrassment over news that some of his aides downloaded pornography off the Internet.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported yesterday that several aides to Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) were disciplined after the material was found on their computers in his office this month. Inhofe's office confirmed the discovery of "inappropriate material," but declined to provide details.

After President Clinton named gay businessman James Hormel ambassador to Luxembourg in a recess appointment, Inhofe vowed to block a string of nominations by the Clinton administration, including that of Lawrence H. Summers as treasury secretary and Richard C. Holbrooke as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

At the time, Inhofe objected to Hormel's appointment on moral grounds and branded him a "gay activist who puts his agenda ahead of the agenda of America."

Gay lobbying groups seized swiftly on the discovery of pornography in Inhofe's office to accuse him of hypocrisy.

Aviation Bill Turbulence

The Clinton administration threatened to veto legislation that would increase spending for airports and other aviation projects and essentially remove such programs from federal budget constraints.

The measure, written by House Transportation Committee Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) would separate the airport and airways trust fund from the rest of the federal budget. Money flowing into the fund -- from passenger ticket taxes and other sources -- could be used only for aviation taxes. The legislation would have the effect of increasing spending for aviation projects because now some of the trust fund's money is used for other purposes.

The administration objected that the measure would not pay for "any of the significant increases in spending it would provide."

Lott Says Tax Cut May Wait

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said an across-the-board tax cut may have to wait, putting pressure on the GOP to find less costly alternatives popular with voters.

Lott said his top priority was a reduction in the capital gains tax on investment profits, as well as providing permanent tax credits for businesses and other groups.

Republican leaders in Congress had made tax breaks the centerpiece of their post-impeachment agenda, hoping to galvanize voters for election year 2000.

Many top Republicans backed a 10 percent income tax cut, proposed by Ohio House member and presidential hopeful John R. Kasich, which would cost at least $743 billion over the next decade.

But Kasich's proposal has drawn heavy fire from the White House, congressional Democrats and some moderate Republicans.