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Wednesday, May 10, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Capital Watch

Health-care legislation may face a filibuster

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats threatened Tuesday to filibuster Republican-backed legislation they said would scale back health insurance for millions. Republicans said the measure would allow small businesses to offer coverage to more workers.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would enable businesses to join across state lines to buy health insurance. The pooling would give them enough clout to negotiate better rates, he said.

Democrats said the resulting plans would not meet people's needs when they get sick because the legislation would pre-empt state requirements for certain coverage. Washington state law requires insurance companies to cover dozens of health services, including direct access to chiropractors, diabetes equipment and supplies, mammograms, reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomy and prostate- cancer screening.

Measure restricts funeral protests

The House voted Tuesday to restrict demonstrations at military funerals, a measure aimed at a Kansas church group that claims U.S. military deaths in Iraq are a sign of divine punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuals.

Unapproved demonstrations would be banned at Arlington National Cemetery and other federal burial grounds. It also bars protests within 500 feet of a military cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral if protests involve disruptive noises.

Kavanaugh gets grilling from Dems

As White House staff secretary, Brett Kavanaugh has a desk near the Oval Office, and he sees most letters and documents that go in there before President Bush does. But Kavanaugh, nominated by Bush to an appellate-court judgeship, testified Tuesday that he knew nothing about the administration's warrantless-surveillance program, a now-rescinded memo on torture and White House visits by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff until they were in the newspapers.

In a 3 -hour hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh frustrated Democrats' efforts to link him, even tangentially, to the administration's biggest controversies. He declined to answer some questions and gave little insight into his political and philosophical views.

Some Democrats say that Kavanaugh, 41, is too closely tied to GOP politics to deserve a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But Republicans predicted that is where he will land after Thursday's scheduled committee vote and a subsequent confirmation vote by the full Senate.

Compiled from The Associated Press, The Washington Post and

Seattle Times staff

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