Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. An item in yesterday's Washington in Brief cited the wrong committee. (Published 11/06/1999)

Panel Backs Bill to Replace INS

The Immigration and Naturalization Service would be abolished under legislation a House subcommittee approved yesterday and would be replaced by separate bureaus for services and enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.

The Clinton administration, congressional Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups, which all agree that the INS must be restructured, complained that the proposal would create new confusion and shortchange the services side that is responsible for doling out citizenship and other immigration benefits.

The chairman of the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee, however, said the measure "eliminates the mission conflict and overload of the current INS."

"We are hearing from every part of the country that the INS has now edged out the IRS for the agency Americans most want reformed," said Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), citing the backlog of 4 million applications for citizenship, green cards or other benefits.

Hearing Set for Moseley-Braun

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) said former senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) will get a confirmation hearing today to be ambassador to New Zealand.

Helms has said his former colleague is under an "ethical cloud," citing questions about her campaign spending and trips she made to Nigeria. But civil rights groups and some congressional Democrats have suggested that a 1993 clash on the Senate floor between Helms and Moseley-Braun over use of the Confederate flag had stalled the confirmation.

Helms, who will not attend the hearing, designated Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over Pacific matters, to preside.

For the Record

* President Clinton asked Congress for $429 million to buy 12,000 houses ruined by floods from Hurricane Floyd. North Carolina would receive $381 million for the 11,000 homes destroyed by 20 inches of rain in September if Congress passes a special waiver allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to spend more than $58 million to buy homes.

* The president asked Congress to pass a $1 increase in the minimum wage--to $6.15 an hour--over two years without attaching pro-business tax cuts that would spend future budget surpluses. "If Congress sends me a bill that threatens our fiscal discipline, I will veto it," Clinton wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

* West Virginia Democrats renewed their push for a measure aimed at reversing a recent court decision prohibiting coal companies from dumping waste into area streams. The administration had initially expressed some support for the rider but now opposes it because the federal judge has stayed his ruling on the case. "It's just a blatant attempt to remove the most important stream protection provisions from the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Act," said Joe Lovett, the plaintiff's attorney.