- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SENATE

Kennedy back at work

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who is fighting a malignant brain tumor, is back at work in the Senate for the first time since July.

He met Monday with his staff on Capitol Hill as the Senate returned for a brief session to deal with the economic crisis.

The Massachusetts Democrat said he’s looking forward to working on an economic-stimulus package and is optimistic he can help forge a breakthrough on health care reform.

Mr. Kennedy had a seizure in May and underwent surgery in June. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he has increased his public activity. He spent time recovering at his Cape Cod home, and returned to Washington late last month.

In July, he made a surprise return to Capitol Hill to vote on a Medicare bill.

INAUGURATION

Bill would ban ticket-scalping

The senator overseeing President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony introduced legislation Monday to criminalize scalping tickets to the historic event.

House offices swamped with demand were being limited to just 198 tickets apiece and most had stopped taking requests. Senate offices were expecting a larger allotment - 300 to 400 each - but they, too, had many more requests than they could handle.

“This is going to be a major civic event of our time. Excitement is at an all-time high,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on the Senate floor. “People are desperate to become part of it … .”

Mrs. Feinstein, California Democrat and chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, introduced a bill she aims to speed through the Senate this week that would make it illegal to sell or attempt to sell tickets to the Jan. 20 ceremony.

A total of 240,000 tickets have been printed, to be distributed by lawmakers to the public free of charge.

SENATE

Lieberman could keep post

Sen. Joe Lieberman appears increasingly likely to hold onto his prized chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee as he meets Tuesday with Democratic colleagues unhappy over his vocal support for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain during this year’s presidential campaign.

Not long ago, Mr. Lieberman’s hold on his chairmanship seemed to be slipping as Democrats sought to punish him for boosting Mr. McCain and criticizing President-elect Barack Obama.

According to several Democratic aides, it now appears that Mr. Lieberman will receive a lesser sanction, such as losing a subcommittee chairmanship on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

AIR TRAVEL

Bush offers plan to limit hassles

President Bush aims to help combat the holiday-travel crunch at airports with the announcement of steps - both new and old - to reduce air-traffic congestion and long flight delays.

The White House signaled Monday that the Pentagon would, like last year, open two corridors of airspace from Florida to Maine, usually used for military exercises, to create a “Thanksgiving express lane” for commercial planes.

Last year, they were open for the five busiest travel days of Thanksgiving week, Wednesday through Sunday. The action was repeated during peak Christmas season travel as well, and a West Coast section of airspace was added.

SENATE

Hearing on Franken absentee case set

ST. PAUL | Minnesota’s Senate recount will be under way before Democrat Al Franken’s lawsuit over rejected absentee ballots gets a court hearing.

Ramsey County District Court Judge Dale Lindman scheduled a hearing for Wednesday morning, 90 minutes after the first counties are set to begin recounting 2.9 million ballots.

Going into the manual recount, Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman leads Mr. Franken by 206 votes.

Mr. Franken has sued to get access to a roster of voters whose absentee ballots were invalidated. The campaign says it would use the information to investigate whether the rejections were proper.

Mr. Coleman’s campaign has argued that such a disclosure would violate voter privacy, a position that mirrors that of some county attorneys. He filed the lawsuit Thursday.

CHINA

Physicist guilty of illicit transfers

A physicist in Newport News, Va., pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he illegally exported space-launch technical information to the Chinese government and offered bribes to Chinese officials.

Shu Quan-Sheng, 68, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, is president of AMAC International Inc., a high-tech company based in Newport News.

The Justice Department accused him of providing the Chinese government with assistance to design and develop a cryogenic fueling system for space-launch vehicles used at China’s heavy-payload launch facility in the southern island province of Hainan.

Shu is scheduled to be sentenced April 6. He faces up to 10 years in prison on the two arms counts, five years for the bribery charge and fines of up to $2.5 million.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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