WASHINGTON - With time running out in the congressional session, Sen. John Kerry is trying to force Senate action on a major small-business bill by threatening to block consideration of dozens of White House nominations to federal office.

"I am prepared to keep this hold in place until the Senate considers our bill," Kerry, D-Mass., wrote Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

All higher level nominations to federal offices must be approved by the Senate.

Kerry wrote the small-business bill with Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said by his aides to be circulating a new draft of the legislation in hopes of finding a compromise.

GOP opposition apparently stands in the way of the measure.

Senate, Demos try

to guard ag funds

WASHINGTON - The Senate soundly rejected Republican proposals to boost food-stamp benefits at the expense of farm subsidies as Democrats fought off challenges to a bill reauthorizing agriculture programs.

The bill would increase food-stamp spending by 2.5 percent, or $620 million annually.

A proposal by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., to add another $1 billion was defeated Wednesday, 70-30.

Lugar's plan would have scrapped existing farm subsidy programs, which primarily benefit large grain and cotton farms, and offered direct payments to all producers.

"Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our farmers for a program that has not been tested," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Train runs over

man on tracks

DALTON, Ga. - A freight train passed over a man lying on railroad tracks, but he emerged with only a few scrapes, authorities said.

Lewis Greeson, 50, was lying between the rails Tuesday afternoon, police spokesman Chris Crossen said.

The engineer braked after spotting him, but the train traveled several hundred yards before coming to a stop.

After several minutes of searching for a body, authorities found Greeson under a freight car.

"It looks like the train just went right over him and just caught him a little bit going by," Crossen said.

He said Greeson appeared to be intoxicated.

A computer search turned up an outstanding warrant for Greeson's arrest. He was to be taken into custody upon his release from the hospital, Crossen said.