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Washington in brief

LAW FIRM SETTLES WITH TIGUA IN LOBBYING SCANDAL

The Tigua Tribe of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas has reached an
undisclosed financial settlement with Greenberg Traurig, the prominent
Washington law firm that employed lobbyist Jack Abramoff while he was
allegedly accepting fees from the tribe to help reopen the casino he had
already successfully lobbied the state to shut down.

Abramoff left Greenberg Traurig shortly after he and public relations
associate Michael Scanlon became engulfed in a lobbying scandal that has
since become the subject of ongoing grand jury investigations and Senate
Committee on Indian Affairs hearings. The men are accused of accepting, or
directing to be donated, somewhere between $66 and $82 million dollars or
more from a handful of tribes for lobbying and publicity services that were
largely ineffectual, according to information offered at the committee
hearings.

The Tigua Tribe's settlement authorizes Greenberg Traurig to represent the
tribe in legal action against the two, according to Tigua sources cited by
The Washington Post.

The Post quoted an attorney for the Louisiana Coushattas, which paid
Abramoff and Scanlon for services and has filed a $32 million lawsuit
against them on conflict of interest charges, as speculating that the
settlement could limit tribal inquiry into the firm's knowledge of
Tigua-related misdeeds by Abramoff while in its employ.

Greenberg Traurig is a major Republican-leaning law firm; Abramoff, until
his disgrace, was a leading GOP lobbyist.

WAR COSTS POISED TO EXCEED $300 BILLION

In a so-called supplemental request traditionally used for unforeseen
military expenses, President George W. Bush has asked Congress for $82
billion in mostly military funding that will not have to be accounted for
in his recently-submitted federal budget request.

The appropriation, if approved, will support military operations, training,
democracy and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan; military and other
aid in Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, Ukraine and the Palestinian provisional
territory; and general assistance in tsunami-stricken areas.

After achieving consecutive record federal deficits; marking more than $300
billion for war spending in fewer than three years; lowballing the
estimated cost of a Medicare prescription drug benefit (now estimated to
cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years beginning in 2006); and accounting for
neither future war costs nor for $754 billion in transition costs over five
years, to begin in 2009 if the Republican-majority Congress approves the
Bush priority of privatizing the Social Security program, the White House
has submitted a federal budget request for fiscal year 2006 that would
reduce domestic non-military spending by a full 1 percent in a $2.57
trillion dollar budget. That would be the steepest decline in domestic
spending since the 1980s, and result in the elimination of more than 150
programs and heavy cutbacks in nine cabinet departments.

Federal funding for tribes and Native-specific programs comes largely out
of domestic non-military spending.