Dues Provision Sparks

Dissension Over U.N Bill

The Bush administration told Congress yesterday it opposes a bill to overhaul the way the United Nations works, citing a requirement that the United States withhold dues if the organization fails to make changes.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, was to be debated by the House today.

"We specifically cannot agree to the withholding provisions," Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said. "We are the founder, host country and leading contributor to the U.N."

Withholding one-half of the U.S. dues "would deal a great blow to our credibility in the U.N. system, and it would have ramifications for the reliability of the United States as a friend and partner to the countries that comprise the U.N," Burns said.

Hyde said he was not surprised by the opposition, but he promised to push back. His bill would require the United States to withhold up to 50 percent of its dues if the United Nations failed to put in place specific changes.

Delay in Settlement

Of Tobacco Suit Sought

Fifty Democratic lawmakers yesterday asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales not to settle the government's racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry before the Justice Department completes an investigation into whether political considerations influenced the government's case.

In a letter, the lawmakers said the government's surprise announcement last week that it was seeking a $10 billion smoking-cessation program funded by the industry instead of the $130 billion effort it had previously sought was "inexplicable" and would put millions of American lives at risk.

At the request of some members of Congress, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has opened a probe into whether political considerations were responsible for the last-minute reduction in the main penalty sought by the government.

Lawmakers said they fear the Bush administration will settle the case before a judge rules on industry liability in the six-year-old lawsuit.

Briefly

Bradley A. Smith, a Republican who drew frequent criticism from government watchdogs for opposing campaign finance restrictions announced yesterday that he is resigning Aug. 21 from the Federal Election Commission. Smith plans to rejoin the faculty of the Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

Bodybuilders and bulky football and baseball players are not the only ones using illegal steroids. Teenage girls do, too, and Congress was told yesterday that the problem will not be helped by tougher drug testing in professional sports. "A culture of steroid use among professional athletes, while troubling itself, is also worrisome in its trickle-down effect," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Carol D. Leonnig and news services