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Border fence bill advances in Senate

Published September 29, 2006

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans mustered enough support on Thursday to move forward on a proposal to erect 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexican border.

The 71-28 vote, a few days before Congress leaves for the November elections, portends a final Senate vote by Saturday in favor of the proposal.

It was uncertain Thursday whether the House would have enough time to vote on the Senate changes and send the bill to President Bush before lawmakers depart Washington this weekend.

Bush's signature would give Republicans one more border security achievement to promote in a year when the House and Senate were unable to break an impasse on major immigration legislation.

The Senate approved an immigration bill that provided some border security, dealt with the 11-million to 12-million illegal immigrants in the country and created a guestworker program.

The House approved a bill that included the fence and other tough measures aimed at cracking down at illegal immigration.

The House has passed the fence proposal as a separate bill, dictating where the fence should be built.

House votes to sanction Iran over weapons program

WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to impose mandatory sanctions on entities that provide goods or services for Iran's weapons program.

The vote came as U.S. diplomats continued to press the U.N. Security Council to penalize Tehran if it fails to end its uranium enrichment program.

House sponsors of the Iran Freedom Support Act said they had hoped for Senate action as early as Thursday night, sending it to President Bush for his signature. But they said there was resistance from Senate Democrats to passing it without a debate.

The bill, passed by a voice vote, sanctions any entity that contributes to Iran's ability to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The president has the authority to waive those sanctions, but only when he can show that it is in the vital national interest.

Women's group defends New York candidate

ALBANY, N.Y. - The National Organization for Women came to the defense of Jeanine Pirro, and Republican leaders said there were no plans to drop her as their candidate for state attorney general Thursday after it learned she is under federal investigation over a plan to secretly record her unfaithful husband.

A defiant Pirro said she is determined to stay in the race and will seek a federal investigation into the leak of sealed court documents regarding her discussions with former New York police Commissioner Bernard Kerik about taping her husband, Albert Pirro.

The leak "is the only felony that has occurred in this situation," Pirro told the New York Hispanic Clergy Association in New York.

Pirro said that she had talked with Kerik about her desire to tape her husband and find out whether he was having another affair. But she denied any taping took place, and said she was was simply venting her anger in discussing the idea with Kerik.

Albert Pirro, a millionaire lobbyist, spent 11 months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud in 2000. He fathered an illegitimate daughter after the couple's wedding in 1975.

Marcia Pappas, president of the New York state chapter of NOW, said her group supports Jeanine Pirro "completely for fighting back on this intrusion.".

[Last modified September 29, 2006, 01:30:10]

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