Senate Clashes Over

Class-Action Suit Bill

Hours after bringing up legislation to revamp rules for class-action lawsuits, the Senate stalled over the controversial measure as lawmakers clashed over whether to allow unrelated amendments on issues such as immigration and global warming.

After failing to limit Democrats to a single amendment to raise the minimum wage, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) moved to choke off all other such initiatives, prompting angry complaints from Democrats.

"This almost guarantees this bill will not be done," said Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who had sought votes on five unrelated amendments.

Democrats said business backers of the class-action bill were upset by Frist's action, and so were Republican sponsors of several unrelated amendments.

Frist's office said efforts were underway to reach a compromise.

The bill would shift many class-action cases to federal court to bar lawyers from "forum-shopping" for friendly state courts.

Forest Service Outlines

Off-Road Vehicle Rules

The U.S. Forest Service announced yesterday the first national rules for off-road vehicle use in national forests, outlining a plan that would restrict all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes to roads and paths designated by federal officials.

Forest Service Chief Dale N. Bosworth said off-highway vehicles "are a great way to experience the national forests, but because their popularity has increased in recent years, we need an approach that will sustain natural resource values through more effective management of motor vehicle use."

Interested parties have 60 days to comment on the plan. Environmentalists welcomed the proposal but said it should be toughened by including a two-year timetable for implementation and by limiting off-road use to the extent that it can be fully monitored and enforced.

"The Forest Service has taken a small step by acknowledging the serious threat that unmanaged off-road vehicle use poses," said Karl Forsgaard, who chairs the Sierra Club's national recreation issues committee. "However, the proposed rule falls short and must be strengthened."

Forest Service spokesman Dan Jiron said officials plan to "move forward as fast as possible" with the designations.

Defense Exec Tapped

To Be Army Secretary

Francis J. Harvey, a defense industry engineer and executive, is President Bush's pick for secretary of the Army, a senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the nomination had not been announced.

Harvey will replace Thomas E. White, who resigned under pressure last year after repeated clashes with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. The post has been held on a temporary basis by Les Brownlee.

An earlier nominee, current Air Force Secretary James Roche, withdrew his name from consideration when the nomination ran into opposition in the Senate.

Bush had previously nominated Harvey, a former top executive at Westinghouse Electric Co., to be the Defense Department's chief information officer.

-- Compiled from Staff Reports and News Services