This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
This week in Washington, Congress approved a war spending bill that President
Bush said he would sign. There was debate on an immigration bill. And hearings
continued into why the Justice Department dismissed eight federal prosecutors
The Iraq spending bill was approved Thursday after majority Democrats dropped
their demand to set a date for a troop withdrawal. But the bill does threaten to
cut economic aid if the Iraqi government fails to make progress on political and
Democrats say they will renew their fight for a withdrawal plan in the next
The one just approved contains 120 billion dollars in spending. Ninety-five
billion of that will pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through
September. Billions will go to unrelated projects at home.
Also included in the bill is the first increase in almost ten years in the
federal minimum wage. Many of the lowest-paid workers are immigrants. And on
Monday the Senate opened debate on an immigration bill.
Supporters of immigration reform, including President Bush, say the bill is
needed to help fix a broken system. An estimated twelve million immigrants are
in the United States illegally.
Proposals include stronger border security, a temporary worker program and a
path for undocumented workers to become legal.
One proposal would create two-year renewable visas for foreign temporary
workers. On Wednesday the Senate voted to cut the proposed number of temporary
workers in half, to two hundred thousand a year.
Some groups say the bill would separate families of immigrant workers. Labor
unions worry that the bill would create a new class of poorly paid migrants with
few legal protections. Employers are divided over proposed changes that could
also affect highly skilled foreign workers. And some critics say the bill would
reward people who entered the country illegally.
The Senate is expected to end debate on the immigration bill in the middle of
June. At that time senators could take a rare no-confidence vote in Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales over the Justice Department dismissals.
On Wednesday a committee in the House questioned a former Gonzales aide who
worked with the White House. Monica Goodling said she "crossed the line" by
bringing political considerations into some hiring decisions at the department.
But she said she had only a limited part in the replacement of United States
Democrats said her statements raised new questions about dismissals that they
suggest were made for political reasons. But a Republican lawmaker said there
were no surprises and no evidence of corruption.
Democrats and some Republicans want Alberto Gonzales to resign. President
Bush says he supports him and hopes Congress will move quickly to finish
hearings that he calls "political theater."
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA
Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.