Deal on Budget Near

After weeks of fighting among Republican lawmakers over the record fiscal deficit and President Bush's tax cuts, the House and Senate yesterday looked close to a deal on a fiscal 2005 budget blueprint. The budget would assume $50 billion for the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and would include a one-year rule making it harder to make permanent the tax cuts at the heart of Bush's economic plan, a Republican aide said.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to file tonight and get it passed this week," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.). Moderate Republicans in the Senate have been locked in a battle with conservative Republicans in the House since March. The moderates are concerned about the ballooning budget deficit and they want to make sure that any tax cuts are paid for with savings from other areas of the budget. The conservatives want to make sure Republican tax-cutting credentials are intact ahead of the November presidential and congressional elections.

Sudan Off a Terror List

The U.S. government removed Sudan from a list of countries considered uncooperative in the war on terrorism.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell took the action even as he demanded that Sudanese authorities allow unrestricted humanitarian access to nearly 1 million people uprooted by conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Sudan remains on the department's list of state sponsors of terrorism despite its removal from the second terrorism list, designed for countries that are "non-cooperative" on terrorism.

Four other countries remain on the list: Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Libya.

For the Record

* President Bush, who is hosting the G-8 summit of world leaders in Sea Island, Ga., next month, invited leaders of six African countries to attend. The White House said that the leaders of Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda were invited to join the summit on June 10 to discuss issues such as famine, peacekeeping and AIDS. The meeting generally is expected to concentrate on Iraq and the Middle East.

* The Senate narrowly defeated a proposal that would have delayed the next round of domestic base closings until the Pentagon determines what to do with its overseas facilities. The 49 to 47 vote was a victory for the Pentagon, which opposes any delay in next year's round of base closings. But the House this week will consider a two-year delay in base closings as part of its version of the defense bill. Last year, the White House threatened a veto if the plans were delayed.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports