Hill Resolution Keeps

Government Operating

President Bush signed legislation that Congress approved yesterday to temporarily keep the federal government functioning after it failed, for the ninth straight year, to pass all annual spending bills before the start of the new fiscal year.

The Senate voted by voice to continue federal programs through Nov. 18 while the two chambers work on the spending bills.

By the end of the 2005 budget year at midnight yesterday, Congress had passed and the president had signed only two of 11 appropriations bills that provide money for health, education, defense, foreign affairs, homeland security and other government programs.

The House passed a "continuing resolution" on Thursday. Under that measure, funds through Nov. 18 would be released at the fiscal 2005 rate or at the levels specified in House- or Senate-passed bills for fiscal 2006, whichever is lower.

For the Record

* Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first Marine to hold the nation's highest military post. Pace succeeded Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who retired after 40 years of military service, including two years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and four years as the chairman. Pace, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Teaneck, N.J., had served in the past four years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He was the first Marine to hold that position.

* The Bush administration postponed punishing Saudi Arabia, a close ally and key oil supplier, for restricting religious freedom -- the first time Washington has waived the punishment of a blacklisted country under a 1998 law targeting violators of religious rights. Last year, Washington designated Saudi Arabia as one of eight countries that could be sanctioned. The postponement gives the kingdom six months to negotiate how it will improve its record. Prominent Saudis have dismissed as politically motivated U.S. criticism of the country's strict Wahhabi brand of Islam.

* On his first day on the job, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked the staff of the late chief justice, William H. Rehnquist, to stay and hired Rehnquist's three law clerks. In addition, he will bring two law clerks and a secretary from his previous job as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

* NASA's passenger-aircraft services cost about $20 million more than they would have if the space agency had purchased coach tickets on commercial airlines, the Government Accountability Office said. In fiscal 2003 and 2004, NASA employees took nearly 1,200 flights using the agency's aircraft services, at a cost of about $25 million, the GAO said. Commercial tickets for those trips would have cost $5 million.

* The Senate passed a measure Thursday to add $4 billion in spending for stocking up on antiviral drugs and increasing the global surveillance of avian flu. The provision, which was attached to an unrelated fiscal 2006 spending bill for the military, faces an uncertain future in the House.

-- From News Services