The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 19, 2004 - 5
Congress passes increase in federal deficit limit
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats accused
Republicans of disastrous economic policies as
Congress shipped President Bush an $800 bil-
lion increase in the federal borrowing limit yes-
The House approved
the measure by a near "The reality
party-line 208 to 204 as
White House and bipar- screwing ar
tisan congressional bar-
gainers moved to the this thing, v
verge of agreement on a
year-end spending pack- to shut the,
age expected to total $388 down."
With the government
facing imminent default - Rep. Thomas
because it has depleted
its authority to borrow
money, the debt limit bill would pump up its bor-
rowing cap to $8.18 trillion. That is 70 percent
the size of the entire U.S. economy, and more
than $2.4 trillion higher than the debt Bush
inherited upon taking office in 2001.
"Our great-great-great-great-grandkids are
going to pay it back with interest, to China and
the others who are financing our government
and our spendthrift ways." Rep. Peter DeFazio
(D-Ore.) argued during House debate.
Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.) countered:
"We can demagogue it. We can keep putting on
all sorts of messages to feel good or draw politi-
is, we keep
s Reynolds (R-N.Y.)
cal lines. ... But the real-
ity is, we keep screwing
around with this thing,
we're going to shut the
Lawmakers hope to
end their postelection ses-
sion, which began Tues-
day, by passing both the
spending and debt-limit
measures and possibly an
intelligence agency over-
haul by this weekend.
Negotiators spent yes-
a plan to pay for some of the bill's increases by
cutting unspent defense funds.
The bill would grant increases to priorities
like veterans' health care and the FBI, and will
probably contain thousands of home-district
Hewing to Bush's demands to curb domestic
spending, it also would cut grants for local water
improvements and research supported by the
National Science Foundation, while holding the
federal subsidy for Amtrak to $1.2 billion, the
same as this year.
Aid to help refugees in Sudan's war-torn
Darfur province would be $404 million,
including $93 million to be transferred from
Iraq reconstruction money that is being spent
at a snail's pace.
Spending-bill bargainers also sorted through
a stack of policy changes that lawmakers and
lobbyists were trying to shove into one of the last
measures Congress will approve this year.
Congressional aides said they believed a milk
subsidy extension sought by midwesterners and
an effort to repeal required country-of-origin
labels for meat would not make the final bill.
Also thwarted was a drive to ease rules designed
to protect endangered species from pesticides,
the aides said.
The spending measure, covering the gov-
ernment budget year that started Oct. 1, is an
amalgamation of nine separate bills financing
all federal agencies except the Pentagon and the
Department of Homeland Security. Republicans
put off the legislation until after the election
because of fights over spending levels and leg-
. The GOP-led Senate approved the debt limit
increase on Wednesday, 52 to 44, almost strictly
along party lines.
The fight over raising the debt limit has
become a staple of the Bush years, which will
have now seen three such increases and two con-
secutive record annual deficits.
The government reached the current $7.38
trillion cap last month, paying its bills since
with investments from a civil service retirement
account, which it plans to repay. Even so, Repub-
lican leaders postponed the showdown vote until
after the election, realizing Democrats would
use the issue to highlight the red ink of the Bush
"This issue is easy to demagogue" and vote
against, said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.). "But
it's not the right thing to do."
Congress OKs debt limit increase
If signed by President Bush, the bill
would increase the federal borrow-
ing cap by $800 billion to a total of
* The new limit would amount to
about 70 percent of the U.S. econo-
my, and more than $2.4 trillion higher
than the debt inherited by Bush in
® The Republican-led Senate approved
the measure 52 to 44 on Wednesday,
and the U.S. Hosue of Representatives
passed the measure along mainly par-
tisan lines 208 to 204.
® The White House and Congressio-
nal leaders came close to agreeing
on a year-end $388 billion spending
terday clearing away final disputes on the mas-
sive spending bill. They agreed to $577 million,
the same as last year, to continue developing a
nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain in
Nevada, one lawmaker said.
Remaining problems included an effort by
some legislators to curb Bush's plan to contract
out federal jobs to private businesses, as well as
Gov't expert criticizes FDA
approval of unsafe drugs
WASHINGTON (AP) - The public is "virtually defense-
less" if another medication such as Vioxx proves unsafe after
it has won Food and Drug Administration approval, a govern-
ment drug safety expert said yesterday.
"I would argue that the FDA as currently configured is
incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx," said
David Graham, who warned that the arthritis drug had been
linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
He told the Senate Finance Committee there were at least
five other drugs on the market that warrant scrutiny: the acne
drug Accutane, the weight loss drug Meridia, the anti-choles-
terol drug Crestor, the pain reliever Bextra, and the asthma
AstraZeneca PLC, maker of Crestor, said it was confident
the drug was safe. "To date, the FDA has not given us any
indication of a major concern regarding Crestor," spokes-
woman Emily Denney said.
Tim Lindberg, a spokesman for Abbott Laboratories, said
"science continues to support the safe use of Meridia to treat
obesity, the leading health epidemic in the U.S."
Carolyn Glynn, spokeswoman for Roche Holdings AG, a
manufacturer of Accutane, noted the drug is intended for seri-
ous cases and does carry risks. "This drug is extremely ben-
eficial as long as its used safely and appropriately," she said.
GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Serevent, said the medi-
cation is safe and effective "when used appropriately and in
accordance with labeling and treatment guidelines."
Representatives of Pfizer, the manufacturer of Bextra, were
not immediately available yesterday.
A second FDA official, Sandra Kweder of the office of new
drugs, did not agree with Graham's assessment of the risk
posed by the five drugs.
She said "there is no magic formula" to determine which
drugs most raise the most serious safety concerns.
Vioxx's maker, Merck & Co., pulled the drug from the
market on Sept. 30 after a study indicated the popular pain-
killer doubled the risk of heart attacks and stroke when taken
for longer than 18 months.
Raymond Gilmartin, the company president, said in pre-
pared testimony that Merck acted within four days of learn-
ing about the risk.
'Withdrawing Vioxx was consistent with an ethic that has
driven Merck actions and decisions for more than 100 years,"
Gilmartin said the company was surprised by the cardio-
vascular risk because it differed from past clinical trials. "My
wife was a user of Vioxx until the day we withdrew it from
the marketplace," he said.
The FDA has defended its actions regarding Vioxx. In a
statement late Wednesday, the agency cited its "well-docu-
mented and long-standing commitment to openness and
transparency in its review of marketed drugs."
But the committee chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, said
an independent board of drug safety might be needed to
ensure the safety of medications after they are approved for
"Consumers should not have to second-guess the safety of
what's in their medicine cabinet," said Grassley (R-Iowa).
Graham told the committee that research indicated that
Vioxx caused up to 160,000 heart attacks and strokes.
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folksy, fun Sabat wors experience (for young adult s). NCOVEMBER 26, 9:0C) pmn.
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With a special welcome to college and graduate school students home for Trhanksgiving.
Followed by a sumptuous Orieg Shabbat of sushi, cappuccino, and really good cookies!
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