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Other News: Congress Fails to Pass Budget Bill

March 6, 2009 at 6:10 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, Congress rushed through a bill to keep the government running for another five days. That was after a $410 billion budget bill for this fiscal year failed to pass the Senate last night. Republicans criticized it for being overloaded with expensive earmarks for special projects. The debate was pushed into next week.

There were signs money manager Bernard Madoff may be close to reaching a plea deal. He’s been accused of being involved in a $50 billion fraud case. Federal prosecutors in New York filed court papers showing Madoff agreed to waive an indictment; that’s a necessary step before a defendant enters a guilty plea. Madoff’s arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge from an enemy combatant over his indefinite imprisonment. Ali al-Marri is a suspected al-Qaida sleeper agent. Last week, President Obama ordered him transferred from military to civilian custody to face new federal conspiracy and terror charges. He had been held without charge in a South Carolina Navy brig for more than five years. Al-Marri will stand trial in a civilian court in Illinois.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pledged a fresh start to relations with Russia. She met with her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva, Switzerland, for their first formal talks. Clinton predicted the two countries could reach agreement on a new strategic arms reduction treaty by the end of the year, but she also acknowledged rebuilding the relationship will take work.

HILLARY CLINTON, secretary of state: I am pleased by the opportunity that we had to begin a discussion on resetting U.S.-Russian relations, a process that we know will take time.

We had frank exchanges about areas where we still disagree. We need more trust, predictability, and progress. That only comes from working together.

JIM LEHRER: President Obama is scheduled to meet with Russian President Medvedev at an international economic summit next month.

The wife of Zimbabwe’s prime minister was killed in a car crash. Party officials confirmed the death of Susan Tsvangirai. They said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured and remains hospitalized. The crash happened south of the capital, when a truck veered out of its lane and slammed into the prime minister’s car. Tsvangirai reached a power-sharing deal with President Robert Mugabe in February.

Commercial airlines rerouted their flights away from North Korean airspace today. North Korean state media had reported the government cannot guarantee the safety of civilian flights. South Korea’s two major airlines detoured flights through Japanese airspace at a cost of $2,500 per flight. North Korea has announced plans for an upcoming satellite launch, but that was widely interpreted as a missile test.