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In Senate: debate slows stimulus; Clinton budget passes. Stimulus hostage to the 'killer amendments.'

The Senate began debate on the President's economic stimulus package (HR 1335) last Thursday afternoon, facing a potential filibuster and two key amendments to derail the administration's efforts to revive local economies. Debate extended well into Thursday night as The Weekly went to press.

President Clinton joined mayom, councilmembers, and governors in a campaign to urge immediate Senate action and to reject any efforts to delay or cut back sharply on any part of the stimulus package:

"I strongly believe we cannot allow this economic recovery to weaken or collapse. This stimulus package is an essential bridge from today's weak recovery to the development of a stronger base for long-term growth. It is an integral part of our economic plan of short-term stimulus, long-term investment and deficit reduction."

Following successful action in the House the week before last, Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) of the Senate Appropriations Committee took up the NLCsupported, House-passed version of the stimulus bill last Tuesday afternoon. The comnuttee voted out the stimulus bill on a bipartisan basis, gaining support from Republican Senators Specter (Pa.), Hatfield (Ore.), and Stevens (Alaska). The committee made only one change, modifying the formula, but not the funding amount, for the summer jobs program.

"Killer Amendments"

The President and Chairman Byrd both expressed strong opposition and concern about an amendment proposed by Sens. David Boren(D-Okla.) and John Breaux (D-La.) and one by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.). Boren and Breaux intended to offer an amendment to the stimulus bill to prohibit release of more than half of the funds, including most that would help cities and towns, until passage late this year of the reconciliation legislation. Byrd called this a "killer amendment," because, he warned, it would probably mean the remainder--including EPA wastewater, CDBG, highway, rural development, and public transportation funds-- would never be funded. It would mean half, instead of a whole stimulus.

The amendment would hit cities and towns harder than any other area through deferring release of $1.7 billion in funds for the CDBG program, $270 million for mass transit, the entire amount for the rederally mandated EPA wastewater program, and rural development grants and loans.

As The Weekly went to press, Boren was filibustering against the bill and told Byrd he was not prepared to offer it for consideration and action by the Senate. Boren left unclear when he would be willing to offer it for Senate action--something which could only be forced through a cloture petition backed by 60 votes.

Approval of the President's stimulus recovery package would provide an immediate impetus to revive local economies, providing nearly half a billion jobs for local economies--for both the public and private sector. Employment is still continuing to decline in cities and towns in contrast to experiences in previous recessions.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 29, 1993
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