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Bentsen urges colleagues not to burden urban aid with amendments.

The Senate resumed debated on the urban six tax bill week amid growing doubts about final action this year and frustrations about White House silence on the bill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) hoped to complete action by Saturday, September 26, after The Weekly went to press.

The $32 billion tax bill would provide for over $10 billion in investment in distressed cities and towns over the next five year by authorizing:

* 125 urban and rural enterprise zones;

* reauthorizing and extending priority municipal tax programs: mortgage and small issue development municipal bonds and the low income and targeted jobs tax credit programs; and

* creating authority for distressed cities and towns to issue as much as $9 billion in municipal, tax exempt economic development bonds.

Final action would also enable Congress to trigger $500 million in direct block grant assistance to cities for health, anti-drug assistance, and children's programs beginning as early as this week. The funds were passed in the emergency, hurricane disaster assistance program President Bush signed into law last week, but were made contingent upon final action on the urban aid bill.

As The Weekly went to press, Senators were still planning to offer dozens of amendments--almost none having anything to do with urban issues, and Senators had been unable to reach any agreement on a time limit to complete action on the bill.

The Congress is scheduled to adjourn at the end of this week, leaving little time for final action by the Senate and a conference between the House and Senate to work out differences between the two versions.

Bentsen urged Senators to drop more than 100 amendments or to accept time limitations in order to complete action on the bill--originally drafted in response to city problems after the rioting in Los Angeles last spring.

Ranking Republican Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) told the Senate the bill was threatened not just by the large number of pending amendments, but also by the silence from the White House. Noting that the bill, HR 11, contains $32 billion in tax and revenue increases--many requested by President Bush--to comply with budget rules to avoid increasing the federal deficit, Packwood said it was unclear whether the President still supported his tax increases in the wake of his renewed "no new taxes" pledge.

Packwood said he had made repeated calls to the White House to find out what the President wanted and did not want, but had received no response.

In action last week, the Senate adopted an amendment to extend for eight months the Section 29 tax credit, which primarily benefits natural gas production, but could also benefits some municipal landfill facilities which produce methane gas.

But Dole "paid" for his amendment by cutting short the reauthorization period for the expired provisions, including the four NLC priority tax programs. Those 12 programs, such as mortgage revenue bonds, all expired on June 30th of this year. Under the Senate version of the bill, they would be reauthorized through December 31, 1993. The Senate-adopted Dole amendment would cut the extension to September 30, 1993.

The Senate also adopted a small health care reform amendment to increase tax deductions for health care for self-employed persons, to create a new grant program to assist up to 15 states in developing small employer health insurance group purchasing programs, to set standards for health care insurance sold to small employers, and to ensure that individuals with pre-existing health conditions who change jobs will be covered under the new employer's health insurance plan.
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Title Annotation:Senator Lloyd Bentsen
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Sep 28, 1992
Words:586
Previous Article:James, Hudnut honored for leadership in government.
Next Article:Disaster bill signed; city block grants await funding approval.


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