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AllPolitics E-Wire -- Oct. 27, 1997

A weekly briefing on U.S. politics:

IRS Reform

As a House Ways and Means Committee proposal for the sweeping overhaul of the Internal Revenue Service gained bipartisan steam on Capitol Hill last week, the White House reversed its earlier opposition and endorsed the legislation. The Clinton Administration saw the writing on the wall after key House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), announced support for the reform plan. Gephardt had privately warned the White House that it appeared to be defending the hated tax agency, leaving the Democrats in a tenuous political position as Republicans make the IRS and tax reform a major issue heading into the 1998 congressional elections. Republicans wasted no time in expressing their glee at the White House's shift of position. Said Speaker Newt Gingrich: "I commend the president for being flexible enough to admit he made a mistake."

This Week In Congress

Lawmakers continue to scramble to finish pending major legislation before their planned adjournment in early November. In the Senate, an impasse over campaign finance reform has Democrats promising to use parliamentary tricks to disrupt other legislative business unless the McCain-Feingold bill is put to the floor for an up-or-down vote. The impasse threatens the future of a proposal to reshape the nation's highways, bridges and mass transit systems, whose funding expired Sept. 30; several judicial nominations; and presidential fast-track negotiating authority for trade deals. The Senate will also debate a measure to override President Clinton's use of the line-item veto in the military construction appropriations bill.

The House will focus this week on three educational initiatives that would provide funding for creation of charter schools and literacy efforts in elementary schools and allow local districts to use federal funds for scholarships to low-income families and students.

Fund-Raising Hearings

Partisan bickering consumed last week's Senate fund-raising hearings as videotapes of White House coffees took center stage. Sens. Fred Thompson and John Glenn hauled out dueling clips of Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan raising funds and thanking wealthy donors at the White House. Senators this week will continue to probe the White House delay in producing the tapes, hearing testimony from Lanny A. Breuer, special counsel to the president for campaign finance issues, and Michael X. Imbroscio, the presidential lawyer who discovered the tapes. Meanwhile, 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole offered to testify before the Senate panel, while President Bill Clinton declined Sen. Thompson's invitation to testify.

The House campaign finance investigation will also be open for business this week to consider immunity requests from campaign fund-raisers Nora and Gene Lum.

For all the details of the House and Senate fund-raising hearings, visit: http://allpolitics.com/gaveltogavel

China Summit

In advance of his summit with Chinese President Jiang Zemin Tuesday, President Bill Clinton addressed the politically charged issue of U.S. relations with China, arguing for closer ties with the world's most populous nation. Clinton strongly defended his continued policy of "constructive engagement," that is, promoting economic and political ties, while at the same time pressing for democracy, open markets and human rights. Clinton called it "our best hope to secure our own interest and values and to advance China's." Critics on both the right and left want the president to go slower on trade with China until it improves its human-rights record.

Half A Century

In honor of her 50th birthday Sunday, Hillary Clinton was surprised with a party attended by 100 friends and family members, including daughter Chelsea on her first trip home since going away to college. Mrs. Clinton left for her hometown of Chicago Monday, where she would continue to celebrate the milestone and tape an appearance on TV's "Oprah."

For the full story, visit: http://allpolitics.com/1997/10/26/hillary.birthday/

Quotation of the Week

"Make no mistake. The problem is real. And if we do not change our course now the consequences, sooner or later, will be destructive for America and for the world." -- President Bill Clinton, warning that the U.S. must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight the threat of global warming

For the full story, visit: http://allpolitics.com//1997/10/22/global/

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