GOP Vows Not to Touch Social Security Surplus

House Republican leaders this week pledged to rescind some of the spending approved this fall if necessary to avoid dipping into the Social Security surplus.

Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) said in a memorandum to members that the leadership would bring a rescission package to the floor in June "if, and I stress the word if, sometime towards the summer the numbers indicate that we are likely to touch Social Security."

But GOP leaders predict there will be no need for such action. And Watts's memo strongly disputed last week's Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study that concluded Congress blew the fiscal 2000 spending ceiling by $37 billion and in the process used $17 billion of Social Security tax revenue to help cover the additional spending.

Jackson Seeks Review Of School Discipline

Jesse Jackson, criticizing schools' "zero tolerance" policies, asked the Clinton administration yesterday to look into whether minority students' rights to an education are being trampled in the name of discipline.

In a meeting with Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, Jackson and other education and civil rights leaders urged the department to gather information, according to race, detailing the rising numbers of students being suspended and expelled from the nation's schools. The department's most recent data were for 1994, Jackson said.

Riley spokeswoman Erica Lepping said the department will try to compile more recent statistics.

Nearly 2 Million Kept In U.S. Jails, Group Says

The U.S. prison population will top 2 million soon, costing taxpayers about $40 billion a year, a nonprofit research group advocating alternatives to incarceration reported.

In releasing the new data, the Justice Policy Institute said more people have been put behind bars during the 1990s than in any other decade in history.

"Our incarceration binge is America's real Y2K problem," said policy analyst Jason Zeidenberg.

Business Group Issues Warning on Trade Pact

Corporate America warned lawmakers against blocking a landmark trade agreement with China, saying their vote could prompt a backlash from business in the November 2000 congressional elections.

Less than a week after the collapse of global trade talks in Seattle, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue said his group would step up a lobbying campaign to persuade the Republican-controlled Congress to support the trade pact, which would open various Chinese markets and clear the way for Beijing to join the World Trade Organization.

"If you're absent on this China vote, it's going to get very expensive politically," Donohue said.