Senate Votes to Tie Aid

To Extradition Policies

The Senate voted yesterday to cut off most U.S. aid to countries that refuse to extradite people charged with crimes in the United States as it passed a $31.8 billion foreign aid bill.

Following a similar push in the House, senators voted 86 to 12 for an amendment to block funds to countries that do not cooperate in turning over individuals charged with U.S. crimes in cases not involving the death penalty.

Senators voted 98 to 1 for the overall bill funding foreign aid and the State Department in the next fiscal year.

The Bush administration criticized the extradition measure as too restrictive on U.S. foreign policy.

Critics of the amendment cited the example of Samuel Sheinbein, who was charged with a 1997 murder in Montgomery County but fled to Israel and claimed citizenship through his father. Israel refused to return Sheinbein to the United States under its policy of not extraditing Israeli citizens. He pleaded guilty in an Israeli court and was sentenced to a 24-year term.

"We would have cut off all aid to Israel" if the legislation had been in effect then, said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

The White House has threatened to veto the Senate's overall bill because the measure would lift the ban on foreign aid for organizations that support or perform abortions.

The House bill backs President Bush on the issue, and, as in past years, the final bill worked out in a House-Senate conference was expected to avoid a veto.

Panel Backs Shift From

Paper Medical Records

A bill to encourage development of health-information technology, which has the potential to bring down costs while improving quality, won unanimous approval by a Senate panel yesterday.

"All of us believe that if we move from a paper-based health care system to secure electronic medical records, we will reduce mistakes, save lives, save time and save money," said Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Government experts have estimated that the United States could save as much as $140 billion annually -- nearly 10 percent of the total health bill -- by using computerized health systems.

Academy's Chief Differs

With Bush on Warming

Global warming is caused primarily by humans, and "nearly all climate scientists today" agree with that viewpoint, the new head of the National Academy of Sciences -- a climate scientist himself -- said yesterday.

Ralph J. Cicerone's views contrasted with Bush administration officials' emphasis on uncertainty about how much carbon dioxide and other industrial gases alter the atmosphere.

"Nearly all climate scientists today believe that much of Earth's current warming has been caused by increases in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mostly from the burning of fuels," Cicerone, a former chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, told a Senate Commerce subcommittee.

-- From News Services