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Clinton, Congress plan fast track for economic stimulus.

President Bill Clinton and Congressional leaders reached agreement last week to accelerato action on the President's budget and take it up either at the same time or right before final action on the President's short term economic stimulus package. The Congressional leaders hope to complete action on beth packages prior to the April 2nd Congressional Easter recess.

The agreement came as the House passed and sent to the Senate the first part of the President's economic stimulus plan, extending unemployment benefits, and 10 different subcommittees approved the short-term increases in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), surface transportation, wastewater, and summer youth employment programs.

House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.), after speaking to President Clinton, said the intention of the leadership was to lock in deficit reduction steps before sending the short term economic stimulus package to the White House:

"Before the stimulus investment package is considered by the House, it's important for the members and the country to understand that we are committed to the broad program, including spending cuts, by the budget resolution."

House Budget Committee Chairman Martin Sabo (DMinn.), who will be a panelist President's economic recovery plan at the Congressional Cities Conference on Monday morning March 8, set a goal of March 10 for action on the President's budget plan in his committee.

The budget, or budget resolution, is a blueprint for Congress, setting targets for spending, and tax changes for next year. The budget this year is expected to include reconciliation or enforcement instructions, mandating various committees to achieve set amouints of deficit reduction either through spending cuts or revenue increases.

Sabo predicted his committee would call for deeper deficit cuts than the President. Some members of the House Budget Committee are seeking to lock in one dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases.

The White House announced last week that the detailed administration $'168 billion long term human and public investment plan and $463 billion deficit reduction plan would be sent to Congress on April 5th.

Revised Schedule for Action

Under the revised schedule, Congress is likely to act on President Clinton's proposed three-part national economic recovery plan to restart the nation's local economies and reinvest in rebuilding and reshaping the nation beginning right after the Congressional City Conference.

The first action will be completion of the non-binding budget resolution, which Speaker Foley said was tentatively scheduled for a vote by the full House on March 17. The House Appropriations Committee has already begun action on the economic stimulus program to help restart the nation's local economies.

Short Term Economic Stimulus

The most immediate impact of the President's program would come through the economic stimulus plan, providing nearly $10 billion in immediate, one-time spending for community development, summer youth employment, transportation, and sewer ready-to-go projects. The funding, if and when approved by Congress, will go to those cities and towns prepared to begin projects right away. All of the stimulus funding would be through existing programs in order to accelerate delivery to local governments to ensure new jobs in cities could begin within 90 days of final action by Congress.

Last week House Appropriations Subcommittees passed and sent to the full Committee key municipal funding for:

CDBG: $ 2.5 billion

Chairman Louis Stokes' (DOh) Veterans and Housing and Urban Development Approporiations Subcommittee voted 63 to approve President Clinton's full request for stimulus funding for CDBG and EPA funding. Community Development Block Grant funds would increase current city grants by about 60 percent. The bill proposes dropping the public service restrictions and allowing HUD to waive rules that restrict prompt spending by cities. Any of these supplemental funds not spent by cities at the end of 1994 would be recaptured.

The extra, one-time funds are focused on projects ready to go in 90 days for entitlement cities and 180 days for small cities. HUD expects the funds to be used for transportation, water, and sewage projects in low income neighborhoods, as well as all other eligible uses.

Transportation: $4.16 billion

The Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee met behind closed doors and approved $3 billion for readyto-go highway projects, $750 million for ready-to-go public transportation projects, and $250 million for airport improvements with the funding dedicated to projects that can be initiated within 60 days. Funds made available but unspent at the end of the year would be redistributed to other cities and states that run out.

Clean Woter: $ .845 billion

The bill would accelerate funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) from next year into this year by $845 million and waive state matching requirements.

Summer Youth Unemployment:.

$1 billion

The Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee voted 82 to fund an additional $1 billion in summer youth unemployment programs in cities. The subcommittee also voted to approve $500 million in additional Head Start funding, $300 million for child immunizations, and $200 million for AIDS treatment.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Action speaks louder than words.
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