White House Rejects Deal on Moseley-Braun

The White House yesterday rejected an offer by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) for a hearing next week on the ambassadorial nomination of former senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) in exchange for sensitive documents.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called Helms's request "completely unreasonable and unmeetable." But he said the White House was not inclined to circumvent the committee process to install Moseley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand.

The stalemate increased the likelihood that Clinton would give Moseley-Braun a "recess appointment" when Congress recesses next month. That would enable her to serve until the end of this Congress, when Clinton leaves office.

Sen. Smith May Rejoin Republican Party

Sen. Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire, who bid the Republican Party a scathing farewell last July when he said he would run for president as an independent, has talked to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson about returning to the GOP, congressional officials said.

These overtures began before Sen. John H. Chafee's death Sunday, the officials said. But the process appears to be accelerating because the Rhode Island Republican's death created a vacancy at the head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee--a chairmanship Smith is eager to have. Smith told a reporter it was "not appropriate" to discuss political issues until after Chafee's funeral this weekend. But he did not deny considering a return to the GOP.

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe is in line to ascend to the chairmanship. But several sources said Smith wants to retain his seniority rights if he returns to the GOP, a move that would allow him to become chairman.

Army Officer to Hear Evidence in Sex Case

The Army took a step toward the possible court-martial of its most senior enlisted soldier in Europe, appointing an officer to hear evidence against Sgt. Maj. Riley C. Miller, who is accused of sexual assault and kidnapping.

The controversy--the latest in a string of embarrassing sex cases in the military--was disclosed last week when commanding Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs of U.S. Army Europe declared Miller unfit to continue in the post of command sergeant major representing the interests of all enlisted soldiers in Europe. Miller, a 30-year veteran, has been reassigned to other duties.

Glickman Promises Farm Policy Proposals

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said he will offer proposals to Congress next year to overhaul government farm policy and provide more assistance to farmers when commodity prices are low. The Clinton administration has come under fire from Republicans over the past year for not offering legislative proposals on crop insurance and emergency farm assistance. "We have an obligation to come up . . . with some specific proposals," Glickman said at a news conference. "We've tried to do that, but we're going to have to do a better job in the future."

Lobbyist Will Take Post At GOP Campaign Panel

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (Va.) is bringing on BellSouth lobbyist Dan Matoon as deputy chairman. Matoon--who ran the first campaign of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and remains one of his closest confidants--will take over the duties of NRCC executive director Scott Hatch, who is taking a leave for medical reasons.

High Court to Review Use of Electrocution

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether electrocution amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, using a Florida case in its first evaluation of the controversial procedure in more than a century. The decision, announced Tuesday, comes four months after the third botched electrocution in Florida this decade.

Florida is one of just four states that require condemned killers to be executed by electrocution. Most of the 38 states with capital punishment have switched to lethal injection in the past 50 years.