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Thursday, September 14, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Capital Watch

House OKs simple way to follow the money

WASHINGTON — Curious about how much of your money is going to encourage hydroponic tomato production in Ohio or to build bridges to nowhere in Alaska? A user-friendly Web site is going to help you find out.

The House on Wednesday passed and sent to the White House a measure to create a Google-like search engine that will help citizens and advocacy groups track about $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, special projects and loans.

The Office of Management and Budget is to create the database, with a Jan. 1, 2008, target for opening it. Users will be able to type in the name of a company or organization to find out what kind of contracts or grants of more than $25,000 have been awarded. Users also will be able to search for a specific state or district.

Bid to curb casinos fails in House

Republicans tried Wednesday to curb the explosive growth of Indian gambling by prohibiting tribes from building casinos away from their reservations, but the effort failed in the House.

Lawmakers voted 247-171 for the measure, but that was short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., said he had hoped the legislation would stop "reservation shopping," a growing trend. The legislation was opposed by the country's leading tribal organizations, and some Democrats said it amounted to an unwarranted intrusion into tribes' right to self-government.

Democrats seeking to reduce abortion

Reaching out to more moderate, churchgoing voters with misgivings about abortion, House Democrats plan to unveil legislation today that sets a public-policy goal of reducing abortions in the United States.

The proposal would not restrict access to abortion. Instead, it would promote such preventive measures as funding for contraceptives and expanded sex education geared toward avoiding pregnancy and support for adoption and services to new mothers, according to several people familiar with the legislation.

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The legislation targets voters who have concerns about abortion but who do not oppose it absolutely.

Columnist disputes source's leak claim

Columnist Robert Novak, who first revealed Valerie Plame's employment by the CIA and touched off a lengthy federal leak investigation, is accusing his primary source of misrepresenting their conversation to make the source's role in the disclosure seem more casual than it was.

In a column today, Novak says his initial source, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was more sure of Plame's ties to the CIA than Armitage has indicated. Novak adds that Armitage linked Plame directly to her husband's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger and suggested the disclosure would be a good item for Novak's column.

This differs from Armitage's assertions last week that his disclosure was made in an offhand manner and that he did not know why Plame's husband was sent to Niger. Armitage, in an interview Wednesday, said he stood by his account and disputed Novak's.

Plame sued Armitage on Wednesday, accusing him of violating her privacy rights. Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, say the White House leaked Plame's identity as retribution for Wilson's criticisms of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Also

The House on Wednesday passed a resolution commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The vote was 395-22, despite having been preceded by a rhetorical battle between Republicans and Democrats over who was tougher on national security.

Compiled from The Associated Press, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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