Transit-Security Cuts

To Be Reversed

Three weeks before London's bus and subway bombings, a Senate committee voted to slash spending on U.S. mass-transit security, a decision sure to be reversed when Congress returns next week.

At a minimum, the Senate will restore the $50 million cut, G. William Hoagland, top budget aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), said yesterday.

There is pressure for a lot more, though adding to rail and transit security programs would mean cutting elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security's $32 billion budget for next year. That would place severe limits on what Congress can do -- at least if it plays by its budget rules.

Despite the March 2004 bombing of Madrid's subway system, U.S. officials have been consumed with preventing a repeat of the airliner hijackings that produced the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Democrats Point

To Unused Funding

Meanwhile, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) charged that the Bush administration has failed to deliver needed rail and subway security to deter a London-style attack on commuters.

Clinton, who is pushing for more federal dollars for high-tech terrorism prevention, said the Department of Homeland Security has been slow to distribute most of the $150 million given by Congress for rail and transit protection.

Clinton and eight other Democratic senators sent a letter to Secretary Michael Chertoff urging him to distribute the unused money quickly.

Ex-Governors to Lead

Panel on Medicaid

Two former governors -- one Republican and one independent -- were named yesterday to head a controversial panel charged with recommending spending cuts and other Medicaid reforms, in a move likely to further anger Democrats.

Tennessee Republican Don Sundquist, whose state has been at the forefront of efforts to cut back Medicaid spending, and Maine independent Angus King will lead the 28-member panel. It will have eight weeks to suggest ways to trim $10 billion over the next five years from the nation's health program for the poor, U.S. health officials said.

The appointments are likely to rile Democrats, who have boycotted the panel and called it one-sided because only Bush appointees will have a vote.

Lobbyist to Work

On Court Nomination

President Bush announced the choice of Washington lobbyist Ed Gillespie to manage the Senate confirmation campaign to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Gillespie, 43, former head of the Republican National Committee, will be an unpaid coordinator with an office in the West Wing of the White House, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with Bush to a summit in Scotland of leaders of industrialized nations. Gillespie will work with former senator Fred D. Thompson, a Tennessee Republican who is an actor and lawyer, who was named to advise the eventual nominee during confirmation proceedings.

-- From News Services