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Bush Agenda Under Fire; Judicial Battle; War in Iraq; Chinese Trade Deficit Has Some Seeing Red

Aired April 21, 2005 - 18:00   ET


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: Well, tonight, the president's second agenda -- second term agenda faces rising opposition not from Democrats -- not just from Democrats, but also from Republicans. The White House battles to regain the initiative.
In "Broken Borders," violent illegal aliens are at liberty in this country because of legal loopholes that could easily be fixed by Congress. We'll have a special report on that.

And sparks fly over the president's energy bill. The bill won the support of the House but faces a tough battle in the Senate. I'll be talking with two leading members of Congress on both sides of the debate.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS, for news, debate and opinion, tonight. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening.

Tonight, President Bush's second-term agenda is facing rising opposition. The president's so-called Social Security reforms appear to be in trouble. Republicans on Capitol Hill are moving closer to a showdown over the president's judicial appointments, and the president's nomination for U.N. ambassador is stuck in Congress.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveax has our report.

Suzanne, let's begin with the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador. What did the president say on that issue today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, as you know, of course, President Bush aggressively trying to save his embattled nominee here, John Bolton. He put aside briefly some comments he was making on Social Security, a speech that he gave earlier today, to fight for his man.

Now, this is really, despite the assurances, a clear sign from this White House that perhaps their nomination, this nominee in some trouble here in light of recent allegations and new allegations. The White House trying to portray a sense of confidence in moving forward here, but the fact that the president had to speak out today on the issue does at least hint that there is a sense of concern.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes politics gets in the way of doing the people's business. Take John Bolton, the good man I nominated to represent our country at the United Nations. John's distinguished career and service to our nation demonstrates that he is the right man at the right time for this important assignment.


MALVEAUX: Now, of course these comments also come at a critical time for Bolton's nomination process. It was today that we heard from the former ambassador, U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Thomas Hubbard. He coming out publicly, telling CNN and some others that he was concerned about Bolton as well, saying that he believed that he was not actually qualified for the job, that he was undiplomatic.

He brought up the case of Bolton's comments, what he said were combative comments that were made during the peace process, the talks with North Korea, partly blaming him, he said, for derailing the process. Obviously just one of the voices that has come forward very publicly saying that he does not believe Bolton is the right choice -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Suzanne, let's -- let's talk about Social Security. What's the White House doing to win wider support on that issue?

MALVEAUX: Well, Kitty, they are slowly but surely just inching forward, trying to make the president's case. There really is no news in this.

The fact that the president, of course, going before insurance agents, as well as brokers today, to say that his -- his reform plan is the best plan, those private accounts. But we also heard today from the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, saying that either it's going to require some serious cuts in benefits or raising taxes.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Suzanne Malveaux.

Well, on Capitol Hill, the battle over the president's judicial appointments escalated today. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent two of the president's nominations to the full Senate for consideration. And congressional correspondent Joe Johns reports.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, known for his fierce independence, today likened the impasse over judges to the Cold War nuclear standoff and proposed a way to avert all-out partisan warfare.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R-PA) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: These threats rival the U.S.-USSR confrontation after World War II, the confrontation between the United States and Soviet Union being designated as being mutual assured destruction.

JOHNS: Specter, who is undergoing cancer treatment suggested that the Senate might be able to diffuse the situation by confirming some of the president's least controversial judicial nominations including William Meyers. But he did not mention Priscilla Owen and Janice Rodgers Brown, two highly controversial appellate court nominees who had just been approved on party-line votes by Specter's committee and who Democrats vowed to block on the Senate floor.

Brown attracted the toughest assessment from Democrats. She's been named to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, often called the second highest court in the country.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: They're pushing for a nominee who would do the bidding, I think, of the radical right. Janice Rodgers Brown is a prime example of a nominee who sees the federal bench as a platform to advance her own extremist views.

JOHNS: To break that opposition, Republicans are considering the so-called nuclear option, a procedural maneuver to force the judges through on a simple majority rather than the 60 votes now needed. But if the Republican leadership does go nuclear, Specter suggested they can't count on his support.

SPECTER: I have not rendered a decision on how I would vote on the constitutional "nuclear" option, but instead have been working to break the impasse by confirming or rejecting the previously filibustered nominees by up or down votes.


JOHNS: A conservative activist we spoke with today said in his view any deal that did not include an up-or-down vote for the president's nominees is no deal at all. The man with the ultimate responsibility for going nuclear also agreed today, telling CNN an up- or-down vote is his key principle. That, of course, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Kitty, back to you.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Joe Johns.

Well, also on Capitol Hill today, the Senate unanimously passed the $80 billion supplemental spending bill for the global war on terror. The bill will pay for the extra cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 140,000 American troops are in Iraq. Another 18,000 are in Afghanistan.

And in Iraq today, six American contractors were killed in a helicopter crash. The Americans worked for the security firm Blackwater USA. There are reports the helicopter was hit by an insurgent rocket or missile.

Ryan Chilcote reports from Baghdad on the escalating violence.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The charred remains of a commercial helicopter downed Thursday morning killing all 11 onboard, six American contractors, the crew of three Bulgarian civilians, and two Fijian bodyguards. Yet another car bomb on Baghdad's perilous road to the airport killing at least two.

An assassination attempt on Iraq's interim prime minister. He got away. Several of his Iraqi guards didn't.

Iraq is awash in a new wave of violence, leaving in its wake all hope the chaos that has enveloped this country for the last two years was on the decline.

Particularly gruesome news just south of Baghdad, where the body of 50 men, women and children have been pulled from the Tigris River over the last two weeks. Suad Hassan (ph) blames sectarian violence for the death of her loved one.

"Six buses laden with gunmen," she says, "took my two brothers- in-law. They surrounded the area and alerted the Shiite residents to leave."

The Iraqi president was hoping the composition of a new government could be announced today. That didn't happen. It's delayed until Sunday at the earliest.

(on camera): The president says he wants to see Sunni Arabs who are blamed for making up the bulk of the insurgents numbers. Included in that government in meaningful numbers.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Baghdad.


PILGRIM: Those civilian contractors were not the only Americans killed in Iraq today. Two U.S. Marines were killed in a bomb attack in the western city of Ramadi. They were members of the 2nd Marine Division.

Well, American troops in Afghanistan have killed more than 12 radical Islamist terrorists in a major battle. The battle took place in southeast Afghanistan near the city of Khowt. It began when terrorists attacked a U.S. base. American forces retaliated with bombs, rockets and artillery.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today angered Russia by criticizing one of Russia's closest allies. Rice called for free and fair elections in Belarus. Russia's foreign minister declared that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside.

Elise Labott reports from Lithuania.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): NATO foreign ministers in Lithuania gathered for the first time in a former Soviet republic. But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was focused on neighboring Belarus, calling the government of President Alexander Lukashenko the last dictatorship in Europe.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: People know about the struggle in Belarus and are prepared to support independent voices in that struggle. And the Belarussian government should know that their behavior is being watched by the international community, that this is not a dark corner.

LABOTT: Last year, when Lukashenko extended his term in a fraudulent referendum, beating back opposition protesting the vote, President Bush signed legislation imposing sanctions against his government and authorized U.S. aid for democratic programs in Belarus. On Thursday, Rice met with members of the Belarussian opposition, lending strong support to their campaign to end what they call Lukashenko's iron-fisted rule.

RICE: We think that the road to democracy in Belarus, while it may seem difficult and long and at times even far away, there will be a road to democracy.

LABOTT: After the meeting with Rice, this activist told reporters the opposition was gearing up to take to the streets, saying they can count on free and fair elections planned for next year.

Talk of democratic change in Belarus has renewed concerns in Russia about the U.S. meddling in its back yard. The U.S. has already supported popular uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine in an effort to steer the region away from dictatorship and toward democracy.

Elise Labott, CNN, Vilnius.


PILGRIM: In Washington today, the Senate confirmed a key member of President Bush's national security team. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm John Negroponte as this country's first director of national intelligence.

Negroponte's job will be to supervise all 15 of America's intelligence agencies. This position was created on the recommendation of the September 11th Commission.

Up next, "Broken Borders." Criminal illegal aliens at liberty in this country because of legal loopholes that could be easily fixed.

And forcing free trade. How a leading senator is trying to make the White House stop China's unfair trade practices.


PILGRIM: Now our special report on the millions of illegal aliens in this country and their impact on our courts. The Justice Department says it's overwhelmed by what it calls a flood tide of immigration cases. And now legal loopholes are allowing hundreds of violent illegal aliens criminals to be released on to our streets.

Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since 2001, illegal aliens convicted of a violent crime and ordered deported have enjoyed expanded rights to appeal thanks to three Supreme Court decisions. As a result, the number of deportation orders under judicial review has jumped from just 1,600 in 2001 to more than 10,000 last year. Even more troubling, the changes have led to nearly a thousand dangerous criminal aliens either being released or about to be released into society.

JONATHAN COHN, JUSTICE DEPT. ATTORNEY: The aliens that are being released include murderers, rapists and child molesters.

Carlos Rojas Frits (ph) sodomized, raped, beat and robbed a stranger in a public restroom and called it an act of love.

Azwaldo Caldaron Caraza (ph), who is convicted of two counts of sexual abuse for drugging and then raping a 15-year-old girl.

Twan Tai (ph), who has raped, tortured and terrorized women, and vowed to repeat his grisly acts.

Lorde Gallo Abrato (ph), who literally set her boyfriend on fire.

Guillermo Perez Aquillar (ph), who repeatedly committed sex crimes against children.

WIAN: In 1996, Congress tried to limit the court review process for criminal illegal aliens. Five years later, the Supreme Court ruled those limits unconstitutional and gave criminal aliens even more rights to appeal deportation orders. Now, foreigners who commit crimes here have more rights to challenge deportation orders than those who don't.

Justices also ruled that criminal aliens who could not be deported to their home countries because those nations wouldn't accept them could only be held in U.S. custody for six months after their prison sentence is completed. The Supreme Court did say Congress could reverse the process by passing new laws. But so far that's failed.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: The last session, I sponsored FILA, the Fairness in Litigation and Immigration Act, because it makes no sense for criminal aliens to get added rights. I plan to reintroduce this bill soon.

WIAN: There are also provisions in the Real ID Act that would address the issue. But the ACLU and others are opposed.

LEE GELERNT, ACLU: Our point today is that the process for determining who was subject to removal must be fair and efficient to ensure that immigrants who have a right to remain are not deported erroneously and that the removal system is subject to checks and balances.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WIAN: But Immigration and Customs officials say they're livid that some of the same criminal aliens they work so hard to apprehend are often released to commit violent crime again -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Case Wian.

Well, a key deadline is fast approaching for several countries to set up a new passport system with the United States. They are called biometrically secure passports. But today, members of the House of Representatives considered whether to extend the deadline to implement them. And that's after they learned it's unlikely the United States will meet its own deadline.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The visa waiver program allows people from certain countries to travel between the United States and those countries for pleasure or business without obtaining a visa. Twenty-seven countries participate in the program.

In order to remain in the program, all of those countries are supposed to meet a deadline of October of this year to supply passports which contain biometric identification. So far, it appears that at least 12 countries are on track to meet the deadline.

RUDI VEESTRAETEN, BELGIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The visa waiver program is for Europe of the utmost importance. It is a valuable (ph) facility to travel for Americans and for the Europeans. I would very much regret that while we are all doing our best to get where we want altogether to be, at such a moment the program itself might be in danger.

TUCKER: Shortly after that remark it was revealed under questioning from a member of the panel that the United States is unlikely to meet its own deadline.

ELAINE DEZENSKI, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We would not meet a requirement that would include a biometric chip within the passport document.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that is our requirement for them, isn't it?

DEZENSKI: Correct.


TUCKER: The fact that American might miss its own deadline appeared to bolster the argument for an extension from October of this year to August of next, which is also the European Union's deadline for its member countries to comply.

The problem with meeting the deadline is the complex technology involved. One witness involved in the technology development warned a bad system would be worse than no system.

JOEL SHAW, BIODENSITY SYSTEMS CORP: The biggest problem will be they will all show up with a passport that won't work. Because irrespective of what is happening, the new biometric passport has one incremental additional component. It's allowing machine-assisted identity confirmation. You'll have chaos at Homeland Security.

TUCKER: Witnesses also testified to the need for implementing the biometric passports as a way to thwart passport theft and fraud.


TUCKER: The House Immigration Subcommittee adjourned today without any decision, Kitty, on whether to extend October's deadline.

PILGRIM: It was a great idea. What a mess, though.

TUCKER: It's a terrific idea, but you have to be able to do it if you want to implement it.

PILGRIM: Nice in theory, as they say.


PILGRIM: Thanks. Bill Tucker.

Well, coming up next, a deadly attack in Iraq. Does it show that the insurgents are still strong? General David Grange joins me next.

And then activists are filing complaints on behalf of immigrants against several hospitals.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: The death of six American contractors in Iraq today highlights the dangers faced by U.S. civilians there. The Americans were passengers on a Bulgarian helicopter that was apparently shot down by insurgents. Five other people in the helicopter were also killed.

More than 20,000 foreign contractors work in Iraq, at least 230 American civilians have been killed in Iraq since the war began. And joining me now is General David Grange to discuss that and other issues.

Thanks for joining us, General Grange.

Why so many contractors in Iraq now? And what can be done to protect them more?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Kitty, the problem is that there's so many logistical administrative and security tasks required that the military cannot fill, or other governmental agencies like the State Department and others cannot fill. It would take thousands of more troops if you didn't use contractors.

So really, when you go to war now, or even a peacekeeping operation, contractors fill a void of many of these positions otherwise done by soldiers and task forces. And so the protection of them is an issue.

They really have to protect themselves in most cases, unless you happen to be alongside coalition forces. And they have to provide transportation for themselves, both air and ground, as well as security.

PILGRIM: They are using commercial aircraft, not military aircraft. Is there anything that can be done about that? Or is it just the numbers are too big?

GRANGE: Well, there's not enough military aircraft with many of the counter measures against, let's say, Iraqi missile attacks to provide military aircraft for civilian contractors. They have to contract their own movement.

PILGRIM: Let's talk about Iraq. And when Donald Rumsfeld was just recently asked about an exit strategy, he replied, "We don't have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy."

Where do we stand here on the effort in Iraq? Are we making progress? We have seen in recent days a spike of violence. Is that atypical or do you think typical going forward?

GRANGE: Well, I think the recent violence is typical. And there will be continual spikes throughout the next several years as this transition to Iraqi security forces and this Iraqi governance takes place. But it is -- it's very successful.

Just reading the after-action reports on units that have just returned from Iraq, very -- a lot of progress is happening. It's very successful. And it will be a successful operation, but it's going to take some time.

PILGRIM: We've had really horrific news from Iraq today. Very high body count in one incident. What -- how do you rate the insurgency, the strength of the insurgency right now?

GRANGE: I still believe that the insurgency has to concentrate its efforts in certain areas. They don't have the freedom of movement they used to have.

The support of the local population, which is critical to any guerilla, any insurgent-type operation, is being taken away. A lot of Iraqi civilians are reporting the whereabouts and the networking of these insurgent forces. So the spikes come from where they are capable of striking, which is not everywhere.

PILGRIM: Let's talk a little bit about the command structure here in the States now. Paul Wolfowitz was generally a lightning rod for U.S.-Iraq policy. We now have his successor, Navy Secretary Gordon England, received very warmly. What's your assessment of the change of the handover and how that might affect things?

GRANGE: Well, Congress likes the new undersecretary. I think that you have now a pretty good Navy lineup.

You have General Pace and you have Undersecretary England, which are both in the Department of Navy. But the other services will keep an eye on that. And there's many checks and balances in the system, to include Congress, to make sure that things are still appropriate to all the services for war fighting or defense of the nation.

PILGRIM: Let's talk about General Pace. One of the criticisms against him, or one of the worries about him, is his ability to stand up to the civilian administrators. What is your assessment of that?

GRANGE: Well, I know General Pace somewhat. He's a tough guy. And I think that he will challenge the secretary on certain issues that doesn't agree with.

But he will not do it publicly. He will not do it at a press conference, nor should he. But behind closed doors, you can bet he will.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. General David Grange, thank you.

GRANGE: Thanks.

PILGRIM: Well, in other military news tonight, there's some grumbling in the ranks over a new combat award. The award is designed to recognize the service of troops engaged in close combat with the enemy. But some troops are not eligible to receive the award because they serve in what the Pentagon calls non-combat specialties.

Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March 20, west of Baghdad. This insurgent video captured by U.S. soldiers shows a fierce fire fight as U.S. military police protect a truck convoy against a ferocious assault.

SGT. LEIGH ANN HESTER, U.S. ARMY: Immediately we went to the right side of the convoy and began taking fire. And we laid down suppressive fire and pushed up and flanked -- flanked the insurgents and overcame that day.

MCINTYRE: Together, the six MPs and one medic killed 26 heavily- armed insurgents, wounded four and captured one. Three of the MPs were wounded, but no U.S. forces were killed.

An Army after-action report lauded the heroics of Sergeant Hester and her unit. "She and her squad leader deserve every bit of recognition they will get and more," it said. But one recognition currently denied MPs and other non-combat specialties is the Army's new Close Combat Badge that was supposed to go to soldiers who in the old days weren't on the front lines. It's a sore subject that one female soldier raised with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why MPs aren't considered for the close combat patch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Army's new badge. It's like the...


What's the answer?

LT, GEN. DAVID BARNO, JOINT FORCES COMMAND: The Army leadership's decision was the Close Combat Badge would only be for those units that were designated to fight as infantry.

RUMSFELD: But General Barno, she didn't ask what the decision was. She asked why that was the decision.

MCINTYRE: The soldier didn't get an answer that day, but the Army gets the point. CNN has learned that new rules are being drawn up that would extend eligibility to all soldiers who are in close combat regardless of their job description.

LT. COL. BRYAN HILFERTY, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN: And we're working the exact criteria and implementing instructions. We hope to have them out by the end of this month.

MCINTYRE: The Close Combat Badge is similar to the Combat Infantry Badge which is reserved for infantry or Special Forces soldiers. Except the new badge will feature a bayonet instead of a rifle.

(on camera): The Army has yet to give out any of the Close Combat Badges, which will go to soldiers who've seen action since September 11, 2001. One Army leader called the awards a huge morale boost for troops, who truly see them as a badge of honor.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


PILGRIM: Well, coming up, a heated debate over the energy bill. Now, two leaders of the House Energy Committee will tell us why they voted for and against it.

And, also, calling on the White House to do something about China's unfair trade practices: one senator will tell us how he's demanding action.

Then, charges of discrimination against several hospitals for their treatment of immigrants. We'll have a special report on that. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Well, in a moment, the chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee will join us. They have very different views on the energy bill. It just passed in the House.

For now, there's some other important stories that we're following tonight. So, we'll tell you about those.

Connecticut has become the second state to allow same-sex civil unions. The law will give same-sex couples in the state many of the rights and privileges of married couples. It goes into effect October 1st. Vermont is the only other state to allow civil unions. And, after several court battles, Massachusetts was forced to allow gay marriage.

Authorities in New Hampshire are investigating the crash of a small plane that seriously injured two men. The Federal Aviation Administration says the plane lost power shortly after takeoff. Firefighters made it to the scene of the crash quickly because they were fighting a nearby brush fire.

In corporate news, Comcast and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, have announced a deal to buy bankrupt-cable company Adelphia Communications. This deal is valued at more than $17 billion in cash and stock. It will expand the company's subscriber-base by more than five million customers.

Well, sparks flew on Capitol Hill today over the newly passed energy bill. The $8 billion bill is designed to encourage more domestic energy sources, and critics say it won't lower energy prices for Americans, it will increase profit for energy companies. Still, the bill passed by a 66-vote margin.

I'm joined now by the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with very different opinions of the bill. Chairman Joe Barton and Congressman John Dingell join us from Capitol Hill, and thanks for being with us.

Congressman Dingell, let's start with you, and I know you've been very critical. You say this bill is anti-consumer, anti-environment and anti-taxpayer. Why?

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I'm joined in that view by a number of people. The energy administ -- the Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy says it's going to raise gas prices by three cents a gallon, and it's impact on supply, demand, and everything else is going to be negligible. The president complains that the bill doesn't subsidize renewables and other important sources, but dumps the money all in the laps of the big energy companies.

The consumers will find that it is going to repeal important consumer protections. The environment will be hurt by things like changing the leaking underground storage laws to make it easier for there to be contamination of the groundwater, and the last result is that the tax breaks are not going to people who produce energy or people who need it to increase production, but rather, to a bunch of big oil companies, the way the administration complains.

PILGRIM: Congressman Barton -- charges -- it's a bill for basically corporate fat cats and not for average Americans. What's your response?

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: Well, I respect my friend John Dingell, who is the dean of the House and has done so many good things for so many years. But he's looking in a different bill, apparently, than what passed the House. We do a lot for consumers in the bill. I will agree with him that it's not a short-term fix bill. Gasoline prices aren't going to go down tomorrow because we pass the bill on the House floor this afternoon.

But over time we're going to make it easier to use coal in an environmentally safe way, with our Clean Coal Technology Initiative. We're going to advance research on the hydrogen alternative to automobile internal combustion engines. We are going to -- on the leaking underground storage tank program he mentioned specifically, we mandate that the states inspect those tanks every three years. We increase funding for the tanks. And we put in a program that allows -- that the states can either choose to go to a double-tank procedure or a ratification of the installer of the tanks.

So, I respectfully, totally disagree on that. I think this is a very good bill. It's a pro-consumer -- it does have some incentive for energy production in every area, and if the Senate follows suit and we get a conference report, the country is going to be better off for it.

PILGRIM: What about that, Congressman Dingell, reducing -- the effort to wean ourselves off foreign oil import, taking the long-term view. Don't you think that this is at least a start?

DINGELL: Well, I don't think it's a start because the simple fact of the matter is, it's going to change neither demand nor use nor supply, according to the administration. That's pretty good evidence, because I'm not a sponsor of this. This is their bill. I would note, also that they have pointed out, that, in point of fact, it is going to put the taxes in the hands of the fat cats and not in the -- and not stimulate the use of renewables and other important actions by consumers.

The president complained that we didn't need to subsidize the fat cats anymore. They're getting $55 a gallon for oil. That seems like that's doing pretty well if they're getting $55 a barrel, and they don't need any more help from the taxpayers or the consumers, who are the same people.

PILGRIM: Congressman Barton, let's talk about electricity for a second. And -- many of us recall these terrible brown-outs and black- outs in California in 2003. What are we doing about the electricity issue? And, you are one of the architects of the bill -- what are we doing specifically about that?

BARTON: We have an electricity reliability section of the bill that -- it mandates reliability standards for the first time, and makes them mandatory, not voluntary. We have some incentives to create new transmission in the country.

On the accounting side, we have some reporting requirements and some transparency requirements, so that -- programs have to be reported, prices and things to try to prevent some of the problems that happened in California five or six years ago. I -- Mr. Dingell had a substitute on electricity, but his substitute, in general, tracked what's in the bill. His penalty section was stronger than what's in the bill and he had -- we repealed PUCA in the bill, the Public Utility Holding Company Act, and his substitute did not do that.

PILGRIM: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. Congressman Joe Barton and Congressman John Dingell. Thank you very much, gentlemen, for being with us this evening.

Well, another critic of the energy bill is House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and in tonight's "Quote of the Day," he says, "How sad it is to spend all this time on a bill that doesn't get the job done for America and the American people." Again one more critic of this issue.

And, that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll, and we'd like to know how you feel about it. Do you think that the energy bill is good for Americans? Yes or no, cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little later in the broadcast.

We had some wild weather tonight across parts of the country. Heavy rain and hail fell over central and southern Kansas, winds gusted up to 85 miles an hour. No injuries were reported, but the storm caused minor property damage.

And, a snow storm hit Montana. That forced residents to bundle up in the middle of spring. The National Weather Service says two inches are expected to fall there before the storm moves out tomorrow. And, in Nevada, heavy winds stranded two girls on a ride nearly 1,000 feet above the Las Vegas strip. It's the "Insanity" ride that's located on top of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. The hotel owner said the ride didn't malfunction; it is actually designed to shut down in heavy winds. Tell that to the girls.

Well, despite the new food pyramid guidelines unveiled this week, fried food back in style at one of the nation's fast food chains. KFC is opening 50 new restaurants this year, under its original name, Kentucky Fried Chicken. And the company stopped using the word "fried" 14 years ago; that's because of concerns that it made its food sound unhealthy. But in case you are curious, we did check with the food pyramid authorities and they confirmed that fried chicken is still nowhere to be found in the food pyramid.

Well, at the top of the hour on CNN, "ANDERSON COOPER 360," when 911 doesn't answer your call for help. And Anderson Cooper joins us now with a preview -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yeah, Kitty, thanks very much. Imagine calling 911 for help and no one comes. Imagine calling back 10 times and still no cops come. Why did it happen? And could it happen to you? We'll find out tonight on "360."

Also head this evening, the enemy within. Those anthrax attacks. Why no arrests after four years? Is the trail so cold the case is really closed? We'll take a closer look at this unsolved mystery.

And the world's largest demolition derby. A massive iceberg that is threatening tens of thousands of penguins. We'll take you to the edge of the Earth. An amazing view of nature's power. That's all in about 20 minutes at the top of the hour -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks, Anderson. Sounds great.

Well, one senator says Americans are losing their jobs because the Bush administration isn't fighting unfair trade. And he joins us next. And later, why immigrant groups are lashing out against four New York hospitals. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Just today, my guest said the Bush administration has shown absolutely no willingness to confront unfair trade practices, specifically with China. And that's why he placed a hold on the president's nominee for trade representative.

Senator Evan Bayh wants the administration to first allow a vote on his Stopping Overseas Subsidies Act. He says the bipartisan legislation will allow the United States to fully enforce its anti- subsidy laws. Well, joining me now from Washington is Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat from Indiana. Thanks for joining us, Senator.

You support Ohio Congressman Ron Portman's nomination, but you are willing to hold it hostage. Is this a harsh act?

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Kitty, I think Rob Portman is a good man. He's not the issue. And I also support the concept of Americans needing to be competitive and trade with the rest of the world. But in order for that competition to be meaningful, we have to enforce the rules. And that simply has not been taking place.

Too many businesses in my state and across America, too many workers are being put out of business, put out of their jobs because of illegal subsidies, and we ought to put a stop to that. So two things need to happen here. Mr. Portman needs to be confirmed. We need to get a vote on our Stopping Illegal Subsidies Act, and we can all go on with the business of growing our economy.

PILGRIM: Well, let's explain to our viewers exactly what is going on with the subsidies. Because against Europe, we have recourse against this, don't we?

BAYH: Yes, we do. This is a quirk in the law that only enables us -- or prevents us against what they call non-market economies from stopping these illegal subsidies. And the Commerce Department ruled some time ago that China is not a market economy.

Well, they've joined the WTO. They are a major player on the world scene. We can't have it both ways. They can't be a major exporting economy on the one hand, but be determined not to be a market economy for purposes of illegal subsidies on the other hand. And as a matter of fact, other countries are able to take action against their subsidies. We should be able to, as well.

PILGRIM: But let's underline this. So if the French government or the German government is subsidizing a company and we're receiving imports from those companies, we can take action. But we can't do that against China.

BAYH: That's correct. China, Vietnam, some of the former republics of the Soviet Union. So if, for example, they are getting free rent, free loans that are never intended to be repaid, free electricity, all those kinds of things to subsidize, bring down the price of that product unfairly, we can't take action against that today. We can do it against the European countries you mentioned, and ironically, Kitty, those European countries have decided that they can take action against China. It's just the United States of America tying our own hands.

And this is not fair. Our businesses, our workers need to compete. But in order for that competition to be at all meaningful, we all got to be playing by the same set of rules. Our officials in our country have been missing in action.

PILGRIM: This is exacerbated by the fact that the trade deficit with China is $162 billion. The United States has the biggest trade deficit with a single country, that's China. And so, it makes it all the much worse, doesn't it?

BAYH: Well, it does, Kitty. And this has major national security ramifications. It is not healthy for our country. It is not a sign of strength, of security, of independence, to become as dependent as we currently are on the Central Bank of China to fund these trade imbalances.

So you know, we need to have an offensive strategy to grow our economy, to create the new goods and services of the future, and we've got to compete. And we have to provide for people who are dislocated because of that global competition.

But then, once we know we got that strategy, we all got to make sure we're playing by the same rules and not have American businesses and workers playing with one hand tied behind their back, which in the case of these illegal subsidies, is too often the case. It's got to stop.

PILGRIM: Let me ask you quickly, changing subject. The Senate today passed your amendment to the Iraq supplemental. You asked for -- they passed $213 million for more armored Humvees in Iraq. You asked for $742 million. That's quite a reduction. Is that sufficient in your mind?

BAYH: Well, Kitty, the powers that be around here didn't want to give us anything. And you remember that soldier who stood up in Iraq and asked the secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, why are we having to search through the garbage for metal to weld onto the side of our vehicles to protect us, and all the soldiers burst out cheering about that? That's what I acted today to try and prevent. So the Pentagon didn't want us to do anything. Nine times, Kitty, nine times they've underestimated the need for these vehicles. Tragically, soldiers have lost arms and legs, in some cases their lives. Our soldiers shouldn't be forced to go through the garbage to try and defend themselves.

And so while we didn't get everything we wanted, at least it was a lot more than the Pentagon wanted. And our soldiers would be safer because of this.

PILGRIM: Understood. Senator Evan Bayh, thanks for being with us, sir.

BAYH: Thank you.

PILGRIM: Well, we reported yesterday that General Motors lost more than $1 billion last quarter. Now the company is being forced to close a plant in Linden, New Jersey because of declining sales.

This white Chevy Blazer could be the last automobile manufactured in New Jersey. The GM plant and a Ford plant that closed in February were the last two auto assembly lines in the state. During nearly 70 years in operation, some nine million cars and trucks were produced at the GM plant. And during World War II, workers of the plant even made fighter planes.

Here's a reminder to vote in tonight's poll. Do you think the energy bill is good for Americans? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.

And, coming up, why some immigrant groups say hospitals are putting immigrants' lives at risk. We'll have a report when we continue.


PILGRIM: In New York today, immigrant rights groups filed civil rights complaints against four private hospitals. They accuse the hospitals of discriminating against patients who don't speak English. Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marcia has lived in the country for 15 years. She has a green card and she doesn't speak English. She says Jamaica Hospital discriminates against her when she gets physical therapy there or a mammogram, making it, quote, "difficult and humiliating" because she cannot understand the English-speaking doctors and technicians. The New York Immigration Coalition called a press conference Thursday to mark the group's filing of civil rights complaints with the attorney general's office. It charges that immigrants lives are in jeopardy, because of language barriers at four area hospitals.

ADRIANO ESPAILLOT, NY STATE ASSEMBLY: To have a patient not being able to communicate with his or her doctor is a life and death issue.

ROMANS: The group rallied outside the offices of the Greater New York Hospital Association which represents the four hospitals. It denies putting profits ahead of immigrant patients. In compliance with federal and state law, it says it treats all patients regardless of language or ability to pay and does provide translators, bilingual staff and telephone translating services whenever possible.

LLOYD BISHOP, GREATER NEW YORK HOSPITAL ASSN: In New York City, it is very, very challenging to do that for the number of languages that we have in New York City. There are over 150 languages.

ROMANS: One hospital in the complaint St. Vincent's Hospital in Staten Island said it has hired 17 interpreters and upgraded its telephone translation services to cover 100 languages.

But the New York Immigration Coalition outlined charges of amputation, sterilization and even death for immigrants. And demanded translators for non-English speakers at every level of the healthcare continuum. From appointments to billing to testing to the emergency room.


ROMANS: And that will take money, a lot of money. Already hospitals in high immigration states like New York get less than 50 cents on the dollar for health services they provide in their emergency rooms to immigrants. This is already a very, very expensive business overall, translators is going to cost a lot more.

PILGRIM: It seems so. How widespread is it, Christine?

ROMANS: Well, it's interesting because one of the agencies -- civil rights agencies went and asked 40 Spanish speakers at the Staten Island -- St. Vincent's in Staten Island and said that 30 percent of these people couldn't understand what was happening. You turn it upside down, that's 70 percent of the people who didn't speak a word of English were able to figure out what was happening there and the hospital was able to help them.

So, it depends on what side of the fence you look at. The hospitals say they are trying their best, they have all kinds of new telephone systems and interprets and translators. They are doing their best. But really a lot of people coming into the hospitals who don't speak English is something they are trying to keep up with.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

Well let's look at some of your thoughts.

Whitney of Lilburn, Georgia writes, "I am just as outraged as you are at our nation's immigration policy, or lack thereof. It makes me so angry to see my family pay taxes on everything from income to my grandparents' death and then hear exactly where their hard-earned money is going."

Clara of Lawrence, Kansas, "Governor Schwarzenegger is too late if he wants to be the first foreign-born president of the United States. We already have one. His name is Vicente Fox."

We love hearing from you. Do send us your thoughts. And each of you whose e-mail is read on this broadcast will receive a copy of Lou's book, "Exporting America."

Well still ahead, one senator tells the head of Homeland Security how to strengthen our country's borders.

Plus, the results of tonight's poll, a preview of what's ahead tomorrow.


PILGRIM: One Colorado senator is suggesting a way to bolster security at our southern border. And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was on hand to hear the senator's idea. Now Senator Wayne Allard says the government should deputize private citizens like the Minutemen.

Well, the Minutemen, as you know, are patrolling a 23-mile stretch of the border in Arizona. Senator Allard also says the Border Patrol should use state and local police to help patrol the most porous parts of the border.

Well, here are the results of tonight's poll. 88 percent of you do not think that the energy bill is good for Americans and 12 percent do.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. We have "Broken Borders," what the government can do to ease the pressure from the rising number of cases in our nation's immigration courts.

And why the flood of illegal aliens is forcing some of our hospitals to close their doors.

And in "Heroes", the inspiring story of one soldier who overcame devastating injuries to run in not one, but three marathons.

For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now -- Anderson.



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