Foreclosure-relief bill likely to pass

WASHINGTON - The Senate Banking Committee today is expected to pass a bipartisan bill that creates a $300 billion loan-guarantee program to refinance distressed mortgages and slow a rising national tide of foreclosures.

A late-hour compromise, reached yesterday, is expected to smooth its passage through the full Senate floor and on to President Bush. The bill is intended to help stop the nationwide freefall in home prices and the resulting slew of foreclosures.

The House has passed virtually identical legislation, and after greeting the House bill with strong opposition, the White House late yesterday struck a more conciliatory tone. "We look forward to seeing the details of the bill as it goes through Senate mark-up - especially provisions to expand programs of the Federal Housing Administration," spokesman Tony Fratto said.

- McClatchy Newspapers

Kennedy to take a few days off

WASHINGTON - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.) is not expected back at work in the Senate this week, his office said yesterday, as doctors searched for the cause of the seizure Saturday that sent him to the hospital.

There was no word on how long Kennedy, 76, would remain at Massachusetts General Hospital. Physicians not involved in his care debated whether the length of his stay indicated something more serious or was simply an outgrowth of caution in dealing with a prominent patient.

President Bush phoned Kennedy with get-well wishes yesterday. "Take care of my friend," he told Kennedy's wife, Vicki, a family spokesman said. The senator was unavailable to take the call.

Kennedy's office said he was "doing well and anxious to get back to work."

- AP

Delay sought for 9/11 defendants

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Military lawyers are seeking to delay the arraignment of five Guantanamo detainees suspected of mounting the 9/11 attacks, alleging that the government has made it impossible to defend the men, authorities said yesterday.

The motions - four filed yesterday and one on Friday - ask that the men's June 5 pretrial hearings be postponed. The United States is seeking the death penalty for all five defendants, including confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Prosecutors have until Sunday to declare to the judge, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, whether they oppose the motions.

One defense lawyer, Army Maj. Jon Jackson, said his team did not have enough access to his client, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, or to secure facilities where classified material must be reviewed. Hawsawi is accused of helping the 9/11 hijackers obtain money, clothing and credit cards.

- AP

Elsewhere:

NASA has set May 31

for the next shuttle launch, of Discovery, and said Russia's investigation into last month's rocky landing of its Soyuz spacecraft should not interfere.

An apparently accidental

explosion rocked a Hilton hotel under construction in San Diego yesterday, injuring 14 workers, five critically, authorities said. San Diego Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Perry Peake cited a likely mechanical failure.