Panel Defers Vote on

Flanigan Nomination

Questions about indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with Timothy E. Flanigan, the administration's choice to become deputy attorney general, forced postponement of a Senate committee vote on Flanigan yesterday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said the Democrats' inquiries "merit answers." The Democrats want the panel to look into Flanigan's supervision of Abramoff as a lobbyist for Tyco International Ltd.

Specter said he will confer with committee members before deciding whether to bring Flanigan, Tyco's general counsel, back for another round of questions at a hearing Democrats are demanding. Flanigan also should provide more information about his role in approving procedures for interrogating suspected terrorists in U.S. detention, Specter said.

Flanigan was the top deputy to then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales in 2002 when the Justice Department produced a memo asserting that some physical coercion during interrogation constituted torture only if the pain inflicted was associated with major organ failure or death.

Flanigan, 52, testified that he and Gonzales, now the U.S. attorney general, were briefed on the memo by Justice Department lawyers. The department withdrew the legal opinion when it became public in 2004.

Senators Want to Know

Why FDA Chief Resigned

Senators with oversight of the Food and Drug Administration asked for an inspector general's inquiry into the sudden resignation of the agency's chief.

In particular, the lawmakers want information about whether Lester M. Crawford followed ethics laws requiring that he report his financial assets and income to the government.

Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) want "a thorough review of the reasons surrounding Dr. Crawford's resignation." Their letter was sent to Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department, of which the FDA is a part. Five House Democrats have a similar request.

The senators also want Levinson to provide the dates that Crawford may have had financial holdings that could have been affected by agency decisions.

Crawford gave no reason for his departure, but published reports have suggested his resignation was related to an omission from his financial disclosure form.

Stopgap Funding Bill

Approved by the House

A stopgap funding bill to keep federal agencies operating seven weeks beyond today, the end of fiscal year 2005, was approved by the House.

The House voted 348 to 65 to fund until Nov. 18 government activities ranging from foreign aid and domestic farm programs to law enforcement, space exploration and aid to the poor. The Senate was expected to approve an identical measure by today.

Homeland Security

In Line for 5% Raise

House and Senate negotiators approved a $31.9 billion measure for the Homeland Security Department for the 2006 fiscal year that starts tomorrow, directing a higher percentage of first-responder grants to states with greater risks of disaster.

The measure, which faces a vote next week, would boost the department's budget by about 5 percent. Democrats said it still would shortchange homeland security, especially after the London subway bombings in July and the recent hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast.

-- From News Services