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Friday, January 19, 2007

Alabama GOP backs much of House Democrats' first 100 hours

Alabama GOP backs much of House Democrats' first 100 hours
WASHINGTON (AP) - Alabama Republicans apparently found a lot to like in the Democrats' first 100 hours agenda that passed the House.
With a few exceptions, the state's five GOP congressmen supported much of the legislative package that new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi championed as Democrats assumed power for the first time in over a decade.
All five of the Republican lawmakers backed a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage from 5.15 to 7.25 and a legislative package tightening ethics rules for House members. Only one, Rep. Jo Bonner of Mobile, voted against a bill lowering interest rates on federally backed student loans.
Likewise, three of the five - Reps. Robert Aderholt of Haleyville, Terry Everett of Rehobeth and Mike Rogers of Saks - supported a bill to eliminate oil industry tax breaks and recoup lost royalties from drilling.
The state's two House Democrats - Reps. Bud Cramer of Hunstville and Artur Davis - voted for all of the bills, with action on the last completed Thursday night.
I think the first 100 hours was pretty well-scripted. I give them high marks on style, Bonner said in an interview. But this was the low-hanging fruit ... It's going to be a lot more challenging, I predict, in the months and weeks to come.
To be sure, Bonner and his GOP colleagues found some things not to like in Pelosi's platform. They voted unanimously against a bill expanding federally funded embryonic stem cell research and a measure making the government negotiate for lower Medicare prescription drug prices.
But for a conservative delegation that rarely strayed from the party line while in the majority, the degree of bipartisanship was unusual.
Rep. Spencer Bachus of Vestavia Hills said the votes don't represent any shift in philosophy and that he simply supported the underlying principles of several of the bills, such as raising the minimum wage and lowering college borrowing costs.
Asked why Republicans didn't raise the minimum wage - last increased to 5.15 in 1996 - over the past decade, Bachus and Bonner argued that they tried to do so last year but were blocked.
GOP leaders did offer a proposal for raising the wage last year after coming under heavy pressure from Democrats as the November election approached. But they linked the raise with tax breaks for businesses and a permanent reduction of the estate tax, and Democrats opposed it.
Bachus commended Democrats for proposing a stand-alone minimum wage bill to ensure passage.
One thing I think the rank-and-file members are tired of on our side and on their side is leadership attaching unrelated issues to bills, he said.
Bonner said Republicans also were making progress on an ethics package last year before losing power.
Carol Cassel, professor of political science at the University of Alabama, said the Democratic strategy for kicking off the session with hard-to-resist legislation is similar to what Republicans did with the Contract with America after winning control in 1994.
They've put out items that they know are popular in the public, she said. It's symbolic unless the Senate passes it and it's signed by the president. And that's not a sure bet.
Keith Nicholls, a pollster and political science professor at the University of South Alabama, doubted that the votes might signal a move to the left.
I don't think there is a liberalizing trend among the delegation in Alabama, he said. They're responding to the politics ov5156 3exec r a AP-MurderinWartime-Mothe
01-19 0352 AP-Murder in Wartime-Mother,0364 Urged not to go to Iraq for trial, soldier's mother says, 'I want to understand' Eds: Also moved in advance. With BC-Murder in Wartime By SCOTT LINDLAW= Associated Press Writer=
TRACY, Calif. (AP) - If there is ever a trial for the Iraqi accused of murdering Spc. Patrick McCaffrey, the U.S. soldier's mother is determined to be there. But the Bush administration has strongly warned her against venturing to Baghdad.
Given the overall security situation in Iraq, we hope that Mrs. McCaffrey will decide against traveling there at this time, Jeffrey T. Bergner, the State Department's legislative affairs chief, wrote in October to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
The government will not arrange her travel, nor help ensure her safety there, Bergner wrote.
If she chooses to travel to Iraq, we strongly recommend that Mrs. McCaffrey retain the services of a security company while she is in Iraq, Bergner said, urging instead that she write a letter to the court, for inclusion in the case file to ensure the suffering she and her family have endured is considered by the court.
Nadia McCaffrey has grown wary of the administration and the Army because of the way she was informed about how her son died.
In June 2004, the Pentagon said Patrick was killed in a conventional ambush. In June 2006, a team of officers returned to her house to say he was actually murdered by an Iraqi guardsman patrolling alongside her son. They blamed bureaucratic snags for the mistake and delay.
A letter describing her family's pain will not do, Nadia McCaffrey says. She has rejected the advice to stay home in the event of a trial.
I want to go to Iraq because I want to know how the trial is going to be conducted, she said in an interview at her hov7006 0or-n r n AP-OR--EscapeeCaught
01-19 0170 AP-OR--Escapee Caught,0160
Salem police dog nabs fugitive in attic
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A police canine cornered a man in an attic this morning -- and after hearing screams -- the man came out and surrendered to Salem police.
A police tip brought authorities near a River Street Northeast house this morning, where the tipster said 29-year-old David Marrow was sleeping in a van nearby. He wasn't.
Marrow has been on the lam since Monday, when he broke out of the minimum-security Shutter Creek Correctional Institution in North Bend.
He escaped by stealing a staff member's car and ramming it through the fence adjacent to the prison's gate.
Police were let in the Salem house and they noticed an attic crawl space access panel had been disturbed. They called up, got no response, and hoisted the police canine into the attic. The suspect began to scream.
Marrow was taken to the hospital for treatment of dog bites, and then to the Marion County jail.
(Statesman Journal)
©2007 Associated Press. All ri

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