2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 18, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - House
Republicans demonstrated their loyalty
to Majority Leader Tom DeLay yester-
day, changing a party rule that would
have cost him his leadership post if he
were indicted by a Texas grand jury that
has charged three of his associates.
DeLay watched from the back of
the room but did not speak as GOP
lawmakers struggled in closed session
before ending a requirement that lead-
ers indicted on felony charges relinquish
their positions. Republicans will now
decide a House leader's fate in a case-
The change received overwhelm-
ing but not unanimous approval in a
voice vote that showed Republicans'
eagerness to protect the leader who
raised countless campaign dollars
for them. He also engineered a redis-
tricting plan in Texas that caused five
Democratic losses through retirement
or election defeats.
The dilemma was to shield DeLay in
a case that he views as political, while
not giving blanket protection to any
leader indicted for a crime that clearly
has no political overtones. During the
closed debate that spanned four hours,
with breaks, someone even questioned
whether a leader charged with murder
could retain his or her post, according
to a House aide who was present. Such
questions would be handled in the case-
There is no indication DeLay will be
indicted by the Austin grand jury in a
probe led by a Democratic prosecutor,
Ronnie Earle. In September, grand jurors
indicted the three DeLay associates and
eight corporations in an investigation of
alleged illegal corporate contributions
to a political action committee associ-
ated with DeLay, (R-Texas).
"I did not instigate this," DeLay told
reporters after the meeting. "It was not
leader led. This came from the members
DeLay said the impetus for the change
was a desire to prevent a Democratic
district attorney from deciding whether
House Republican leaders could keep
their jobs. He accused Earle of "trying to
criminalize politics and using the crimi-
nal code to insert himself into politics."
Earle's office, asked to respond, had
,no immediate comment.
The prime mover for the change was
Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), who won
with less than 52 percent of the vote two
years ago and 69 percent this year after
his district boundaries were changed in
a DeLay-engineered Texas redistricting
plan. He cited previous Texas cases he
viewed as political - all investigated
by Earle, the prosecutor in the current
campaign finance probe. In one of those
cases, charges against Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison - then a Texas official -
were abruptly dropped 10 years ago.
"This takes the power away from any
partisan crackpot district attorney who
may want to indict" party leaders and
make a name for himself, Bonilla said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelo-
si (D-Calif.) denounced the Republi-
"Republicans have reached a new
low," Pelosi said in a statement. "It is
absolutely mind-boggling that as their
first order of business following the elec-
tions, House Republicans have lowered
the ethical standards for their leaders."
Some GOP lawmakers also opposed
"It sends all the wrong signals for us
to change the current rules," said Rep.
Zach Wamp of Tennessee. He said he
requested a recorded, secret ballot but
the suggestion was voted down.
A fellow Republican opponent, Rep.
Christopher Shays of Connecticut, esti-
mated 30 to 50 members voted against
it. More than 200 Republicans were eli-
gible to vote.
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Putin: Russia developing new weapon
President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia is currently develop-
ing a new form of nuclear missile unlike those held by other countries, news
Speaking at a meeting of the Armed Forces' leadership, Putin reported";y said
that Russia is researching and successfully testing new nuclear missile systems.
"I am sure that - they will be put in service within the next few years and, wIat
is more, they will be developments of the kind that other nuclear powers do not aid
will not have," Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Putin reportedly said: "International terrorism is one of the major threats for
Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defense as a
nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur."
No details were immediately available, but Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in
early November that Russia planned to test-fire a mobile version of Topol-M ballistic
missiles in 2004 and production of the new weapon could be commissioned in 2005.
News reports have also said Russia is believed to be developing a next-genera-
tion heavy nuclear missile that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing a
total of 4.4 tons, compared with the Topol-M's 1.32-ton combat payload.
Suicide bombers, battles claim 27 lives
A suicide car bomber blasted an American convoy north of Baghdad and U.S.
troops battled insurgents west of the capital yesterday as a wave of violence across
Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland killed at least 27 people.
American forces pursued their search-and-destroy mission against the remain-
ing holdouts in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, and to the north, American
forces pressed an offensive to reclaim part of the city of Mosul from militants.
November became one of Iraq's bloodiest months as the U.S. death toll in the
war in Iraq reached 1,206 with new Defense Department identifications Tesday
night and yesterday, according to an Associated Press tally.
Yesterday, a suicide attacker drove his bomb-laden car into a U.S. convoy dur-
ing fierce fighting in the town of Beiji, 155 miles north of the Baghdad, killing 10
people and wounding 12, including three American soldiers. Another attack on a
convoy of civilian contractors in Beiji caused no casualties.
Elsewhere, a three-hour gunbattle between militants and U.S. forces after night-
fall left seven people dead and 13 hurt in Ramadi, a city west of Fallujah.
New guidelines drafted for federal sentences
Judges and legal scholars are working on new guidelines for sentencing federal
criminals, in anticipation that the Supreme Court will strike down a 17-year-old
system that has been challenged as unconstitutional.
About 30,000 cases have backed up since last June's high court decision raised
questions about the legality of the system. The court now is considering if the
guidelines must be replaced because they call for judges, not juries, to consider
factors that can add years to prison sentences.
A ruling is likely before the end of 2004, and experts helping a federal panel
draft alternatives were generally united in predicting that at least part of the guide-
lines will be overturned.
Congress to update special education law
Congress is poised to approve the first major changes to special education in
seven years, updating a landmark law that now serves 6.7 million children.
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on the terms of a bill after
weeks of closed-door talks and nearly two years of debate in Congress, aides close
to the discussions said Tuesday.
The bill aims to boost discipline in class, better identify children with disabili-
ties, get help to students earlier and reduce lawsuits by parents.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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