WASHINGTON — Before adjourning Saturday, the Senate approved and sent to President Clinton legislation to compensate Persian Gulf War veterans who are found to suffer from undiagnosed and unknown illnesses.
The law is aimed at ensuring "that (these) veterans will receive the benefits they have earned," said Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Congressional aides said there are at least 10,000 veterans who have complained about mysterious illnesses after returning from the Persian Gulf. The legislation had been requested by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown.
The bill provides no specific funding levels but requires that adequate money be found within the Veterans Affairs budget. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost at between $35 million and $40 million per year.
In other action, the Senate:
* Approved and sent to the President legislation to help states explore possible rail corridors for high-speed passenger trains.
The legislation, cleared by a voice vote, authorizes $184 million over three years for preliminary planning and technological development of high-speed rail programs.
* Killed legislation that would have allowed governors to control the amount of interstate garbage flowing into their states.
The House had passed the bill, but an attempt to get it through the upper chamber failed when Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) objected to the legislation passing by unanimous consent.
Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.) said an agreement had been reached on a compromise bill that passed the House on Friday night. But he said Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) had put a "hold" on the legislation, keeping the Senate from approving it by unanimous consent.
Under the compromise, governors would have been able to freeze garbage imports at 1993 levels or at a single landfill or incinerator. A governor could also have restricted the amount of garbage from a particular state.
Other bills killed by last-minute GOP objections voiced by Dole included a minority health bill to authorize about $1 billion for several government programs and agencies, a bill to facilitate the conversion of the former Presidio military base in San Francisco to a national park, and a bill establishing a Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford, Mass.