The New York Times and Washington Postlead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with Democrats giving up on their quest to include a timeline for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in the war-spending bill. The decision came after President Bush repeatedly vowed to, once again, use his veto power on any bill that contained a timeline. The WP wastes no time, declaring in its lead sentence that this is a clear victory for Bush.
The Los Angeles Timesleads with news that the immigration bill passed its first major hurdle yesterday after senators voted against an amendment that would have removed the temporary-workers provision from the legislation. USA Todayleads with a new survey that reveals Muslims in the United States have moderate political views and, for the most part, reject Islamic extremism. This is in contrast to Muslims in several Western European countries who are more likely to be sympathetic to suicide bombers. But the survey also found “pockets of sympathy for extremism” among younger Muslims.
Instead of a schedule for withdrawal, Democrats agreed with Republicans to establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government, which would be tied to reconstruction aid. The LAT notes, though, that Bush would be allowed to waive these requirements. Many anti-war Democrats were angry about the compromise, and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s “not likely to vote for something that doesn’t have a timetable.” To deal with all these unhappy lawmakers, Democratic leaders are planning to divide the war-spending bill into two separate votes. One, which many Democrats will probably oppose, would provide the war money, and the other would focus on the domestic-spending part of the bill. Then the House would combine the bills and send them to the Senate, with the hope that they will reach the White House before the Memorial Day recess.
The immigration reform bill has a provision that would allow 400,000 (and as many as 600,000) temporary workers into the United States for two-year stints. Two Democrats, who say the program will decrease overall wages and create an underclass of workers, brought an amendment to remove the provision, which was defeated 64-31. Democratic lawmakers vowed to come back to the issue of temporary workers and are set to issue an amendment that would cut their number in half to 200,000, which many believe has a good chance of passing.
The LAT, WP, and WSJ front news that British prosecutors accused a Russian millionaire businessman, Andrei Lugovoi, of murdering former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive poisoning. British authorities demanded that the Russian government extradite Lugovoi, himself a former KGB agent, so he can stand trial. Russian officials refused, saying that extradition is banned by the country’s constitution. It is widely known that the two former KGB agents met at a hotel bar in London before Litvinenko died.
The day has finally arrived for lawmakers to hear the testimony of Monica Goodling, the former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was the Justice Department’s liaison with the White House before she resigned in April. She agreed to talk about the firings of U.S. attorneys only after she was granted immunity. The LAT fronts, and the WP goes inside with, a look at Goodling, and they both paint a picture of a young and inexperienced aide who suddenly became a powerful figure in the Justice Department. She did not hesitate to use that power and by all accounts was a central figure in selecting which U.S. attorneys were going to be fired. Goodling also apparently used her position to try to prevent the hiring of career prosecutors she thought were too liberal. The LAT mentions how Goodling, along with Kyle Sampson, tried to select candidates for the job left by the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles even though there was already a bipartisan commission in place to do just that.
Both the NYT and LAT have good Page One stories that shine a light into the daily lives of U.S. troops in Iraq. The NYT’s Damien Cave was traveling with the unit searching for three of their own who were captured Saturday when a bomb exploded and killed one of the soldiers. These types of homemade landmines have recently become more of a threat to soldiers who had gotten used to worrying about roadside bombs. The LAT’s Garrett Therolf spent four days with a platoon in western Baghdad that is emblematic of the new security plan that has service members living in small outposts close to the communities they are trying to protect. Perhaps not surprisingly, the soldiers “now openly declare pessimism for the mission’s chances.”
All the papers mention that thousands of Palestinian refugees escaped from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon as soon as a cease-fire began.
The NYT fronts, and the WP and LAT go inside with, a look at how Democratic leaders are having a tough time passing even watered-down ethics legislation. Many are opposed to a provision that would force lobbyists to disclose the contributions that they bundle together from different contributors. Meanwhile, Democrats voted against censuring one of their most powerful members, Rep. John Murtha, who faced claims that he violated the ethics rule that forbids trading votes for earmarks. The controversy began when Republican Rep. Mike Rogers questioned one of Murtha’s earmarks. Murtha then allegedly warned Rogers: “I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriation bill, because they are gone and you will not get any earmarks now and forever.”
Wouldn’t have been very good gossip … A correction from the LAT: “An article … about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure on the Wal-Mart board of directors said that in early 1992 she told two friends confidentially that her husband … was planning to run for president. The conversation took place in early fall 1991.”