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US Lawmakers to Vote on Subpoenas Over Dismissal of Federal Prosecutors

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is to vote Wednesday, on whether to authorize subpoenas, in an attempt to force White House officials to testify about last year's firings of eight federal prosecutors.

House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday rejected President Bush's offer to allow congressional investigators to privately interview his aides, including chief political adviser Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers. Democratic leaders are calling for Rove and Miers to testify publicly, under oath, and for the record.

President Bush insists the testimony must be private, without oaths and without transcripts. He says he is prepared to fight Democratic congressional leaders in court if they subpoena White House aides.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer says the president's offer does not give Congress a real opportunity to determine what happened.

Some lawmakers are calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. They say the U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons.

Top Justice Department officials originally said the prosecutors were fired because of poor performance, but they have since backed away from that rationale.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to end the attorney general's ability to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.