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Lukens resigns to avoid proof of conduct

Rep. Donald E. "Buz" Lukens of Ohio resigned Wednesday rather than face a broadened ethics committee inquiry into charges of sexual misconduct. The Republican lawmaker announced his decision in a one-sentence letter to Gov. Richard F. Celeste of Ohio that was read by a clerk on the House floor. "Effective immediately," Lukens wrote, "for the good of the Congress and the integrity of the institution, I resign my seat in the United States House of Representatives." Two days ago, the committee voted to expand its investigation into new allegations that Lukens had made advances to a young woman who was operating a congressional elevator. Lukens, who was convicted last year on a charge of paying a 16-year-old girl to engage in sex, was defeated in a Republican primary last spring and was to leave office at the end of the current session this year.Agency requires safer, stronger car doors

After 12 years of delay, the government's top safety agency has ordered all domestic and foreign automakers to install stronger doors and side panels on cars built in the mid-1990s. Under a regulation announced Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the automakers must improve their cars' protection against side-impact collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 8,000 Americans are killed annually in side-impact accidents, about one-third of all deaths that occur in passenger cars.

Chances evaporate for seafood inspection

The House virtually eliminated any chance of fish inspection becoming federal law this year by approving a bill Wednesday that sharply contrasts with companion legislation passed by the Senate. "We don't have time for a conference," said Agriculture Committee chairman Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, who tried unsuccessfully to win House approval of a measure similar to the Senate's. No one questioned the need for inspection. With seafood consumption up and about 60,000 people becoming ill in one year from eating fish, even the industry wanted it. The problem was who should do the inspection.

Briefly . . .

The Senate on Wednesday approved a $15.5-billion foreign aid bill that includes a cut in El Salvador's military aid and debt forgiveness for Egypt. The bill now goes to negotiations to work out differences with a House-passed version.

A bill requiring colleges to report crime statistics and athletes' graduation rates cleared its final congressional obstacle Wednesday as the Senate approved the measure by a voice vote, sending it to President Bush for his signature.

A House-Senate conference committee reached agreement Wednesday on a major immigration reform bill that would increase legal entry into the United States by 35 percent and give more visas to people with skills. The bill would benefit people from Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece that have been virtually locked out in recent years.