U.N. Council Backs U.S.
In Iraq Through 2006
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to authorize the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq to provide security in the war-racked country through the end of 2006.
The resolution, which was adopted by a vote of 15 to 0, ensures that the U.S. military will have a legal basis for remaining in Iraq for a year after a new government is elected on Dec. 15. But the resolution, which was co-sponsored by the United States, Britain, Romania and Denmark, would also provide Iraq's new government the power to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops at any time.
John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution's unanimous passage constitutes a "vivid demonstration of the broad international support" for Iraq's democratic transition. He said the adoption of the resolution one month before Iraq's first election under a new constitution will help ensure the new government can focus on consolidating power.
The council's action came just more than a week after Iraq's interim prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, appealed to the council to extend the mandate of the U.S.-led coalition until Dec. 31, 2006.
To Bush Flu Aid Request
President Bush's proposal to spend $7.1 billion for flu pandemic preparedness ran into headwinds in the House on Monday, as some Democrats said it would shortchange states and some Republicans said it is too expensive.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would not support the spending request if it means increasing the deficit.
"I would vote against it, and I would encourage others to vote against it," he said.
Last week, the administration announced several proposals designed to stop or curtail the effects of a potential flu pandemic.
In a hearing yesterday, Barton asked administration officials whether they would work with Congress to find savings in other programs to pay for pandemic preparedness. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the president views the funding as an emergency.
Democrats spent much of the hearing questioning whether the plan would direct appropriate resources to state and local health care. "The plan is long on directions and short on resources for nonfederal partners in pandemic preparedness," said ranking Democrat John D. Dingell (Mich.).
Senate Finance Chair
Seeks Longer Tax Break
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed extending lower taxes on dividends and capital gains until 2010 and limiting the alternative minimum tax as part of an $81.4 billion tax-cut measure his panel will debate this week.
The measure, which contains $7.6 billion in tax breaks to help survivors of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma rebuild their communities, also extends temporary tax breaks for businesses, such as a research credit worth almost $5 billion annually for companies such as Microsoft Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp. and the Boeing Co.
Democrats and some moderate Republicans have expressed concern about cutting taxes further, citing rising costs for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region.
-- From News Services