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Washington in brief

U.S. treasurer resigns, may run for Senate

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 23, 2003

WASHINGTON - U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin announced her resignation Thursday amid speculation she was planning to challenge California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.

Marin, the highest-ranking Latin American woman in the Bush administration, plans to return to California with her family when she leaves her post June 30. No Hispanic woman has served in the Senate.

"After long and thoughtful consideration, my family and I have decided to go back home to California," Marin said in her resignation letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Marin, 44, who was traveling, was not available to discuss her plans, but several Republicans said they saw her resignation as a step toward a Senate campaign in 2004.

"She is actively, actively out there trying to put a campaign together," said Allan Hoffenblum, a California Republican consultant.

As treasurer, Marin oversees the makers of America's greenbacks and its coins - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, respectively. Her signature can be found on paper currency.

She also has used her post to travel the country promoting financial literacy, and has tried to get more lower-income people and others into the banking system, helping them to set up savings and checking accounts.

Bush taps policy aide as budget manager

WASHINGTON - President Bush picked Joshua Bolten to manage the federal budget and bureaucracy Thursday, assigning a quiet but influential White House policy aide to keep a lid on government spending at a time of record-setting deficits.

Bolten promised that as new budget director, he would be "a tightfisted custodian of the people's money."

If confirmed by the Senate, Bolten, 48, would succeed Mitch Daniels, who is expected to return to Indiana to run for governor.

No member of my staff has served with greater skill or earned greater respect amongst his colleagues than Josh Bolten," Bush said.

The post would vault Bolten from a West Wing office where he works outside the spotlight, often seven days a week, into the very public role of director of the Office of Management and Budget. OMB assists the president in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and supervises its administration in executive branch agencies.

White House endorses rural Medicare increase

WASHINGTON - The White House will support increased Medicare funds for rural hospitals when Congress considers overhauling the federal health care program for older people.

President Bush made the pledge Thursday in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who had proposed the Medicare increase as Congress worked out a deal on a tax cut and spending bill.

Senators voted 86-12 last week to approve Grassley's $25-billion proposal, but the measure was stripped when House and Senate leaders settled on a final plan.

In his letter, Bush told Grassley they agree on the need to help rural hospitals and doctors.

"I will support the increased Medicare funding for rural providers contained in your amendment as part of a bill that implements our shared goal for Medicare reform," Bush wrote.

Also ...

CHENEY CANCELS SPEECH: Vice President Dick Cheney canceled his commencement address at Louisiana State University today, saying he wanted to remain in Washington in case he is needed to break a tied Senate vote on tax cuts. His wife, Lynne, will give the speech in his place.

DRONES MAY MONITOR BORDERS: Unmanned aerial drones similar to ones used in the war on Iraq could be patrolling the U.S. border by the end of the year to help stem illegal immigration and increase security, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday.

"We are very serious in looking at UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) for both border applications, land and sea," Ridge told the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

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