By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Gay rights advocates have scored two victories in Arkansas with the approval of local anti-discrimination measures in the state's most populous county and an Ozark Mountain tourist town despite conservative opposition. In Pulaski County, which includes the state capital Little Rock, the local governing body on Tuesday voted 9-3 to give initial approval to an ordinance barring discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Last month, the city government of Little Rock approved a nearly identical statute. In Eureka Springs, a popular tourist town nestled in the Ozark Mountains with about 2,200 people including a substantial gay population, more than 70 percent of voters on Tuesday backed an anti-discrimination ordinance.
The White House criticized Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives for a plan that would cut grants to Amtrak, part of a transportation funding bill that lawmakers were set to consider on Wednesday in the wake of an Amtrak derailment. The House spending bill for the coming fiscal year would cut Amtrak grants by $252 million from current levels, said Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. "You're looking at more than a 15 percent cut in investments in Amtrak," Donovan told reporters on a conference all, noting Obama had proposed a boost to Amtrak funding to $2.45 billion, up from current levels of $1.4 billion.