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Washington in brief

Inquiry sought on Iraq contract

By Times wire services
Published April 9, 2003

House Democrats on Tuesday called for an investigation into whether Bush administration contracts to rebuild Iraq favored a corporation once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The company's Texas subsidiary was selected without competitive bids to extinguish oil well fires.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in a letter to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, are seeking a review of the contract process under way at the U.S. Agency for International Development for $1.7-billion worth of work in post-war Iraq.

The lawmakers want a probe of the contract given to Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, that was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A spokeswoman for the vice president did not return a call seeking comment.

House seeks benefits for airline workers

WASHINGTON - Ignoring a plea from the White House, the House said Tuesday that unemployment benefits for airline industry workers should be part of a supplemental budget to pay for the war in Iraq.

The House voted 265-150 for a nonbinding resolution calling for the benefits to be included in a compromise budget bill being negotiated by House and Senate members.

Seven cities to divide $96-million for security

WASHINGTON - Identified as high-risk areas for terrorist attacks, seven cities will divide more than $96-million in extra federal aid and could receive millions of dollars more later to strengthen local defenses, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

The cities will get funding to pay for equipment and training to help "first responders" - police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel - prepare for terrorist strikes.

Tuesday's announcement signals that the cities - New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston - should be in line for more money from an emergency spending measure expected to clear Congress this week.

[Last modified April 18, 2003, 13:36:44]