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Congress starts work on Clinton's economic recovery plan.

President Clinton last week flatly rejected a proposal by Congressional Republicans to drop his $160 billion long-term investment program. While the President told House and Senate Republican leaders he was open to specific suggestions for further spending cuts, he remained firm in support of his investment package.

The President's statement came after House and Senate Democratic leaders met with President Clinton last week and vowed to act on the first two key steps of the President's economic recovery plan by the end of the month. They said they would pass both a budget resolution and the President's short term stimulus package before the Congressional Easter recess begins on April 2.

The House hopes to report both measures out of committee this week and put them before the full House as early as next week.

The prediction came one day after White House Budget Director Leon Panetta warned that the White House would not be able to meet its goal of creating 500,000 jobs in cities and towns this year unless the stimulus package is signed into law by President Clinton before Easter.

Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Me) said the Congressional action on the President's plan would be "the crucial test:"

"I think increasingly passage of the President's economic program is being interpreted by the American people as a metaphor on whether our government works, whether gridlock is over, and whether we are going to change the course we've been on over the last several years."

House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) said "There is strong and growing support for his program in the Congress. There is a very strong and growing sense that his program represents the hope of the country of moving forward with an investment package that creates jobs and growth, and a program that lays the groundwork for long-term, successful deficit reduction."

House Budget Committee Chairman Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), who is slated to talk to NLC members on Monday, March 8, along with members of President Clinton's cabinet, said that he expected his panel to offer additional spending cuts to the President's budget; but he expected his committee to basically support the President. He has scheduled action for Wednesday.

One, Two, Three

Congress is expected to act on the President's economic recovery package in three steps: first, adopting a non-binding budget resolution; then voting on the short term, economic stimulus spending package; and then a massive reconciliation bill.

The budget resolution would set the blueprint for spending cuts and revenue increases for next year, and could incorporate instructions to Congressional committees to take deficit reduction actions. The resolution is similar to the budget adopted by cities for the following fiscal year. Congress is aiming to complete agreement on this step by April 2nd.

The next step will be on the spending portion of the President's economic stimulus package, including the one-time increases for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), transportation, clean water, and summer youth jobs programs. This bill, termed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill, would provide funding for ready-to-go projects in cities and towns this year. The Congressional leadership expects to take this action up immediately after adoption of the budget resolution.

The third step in the President's plan will be the so-called budget reconciliation legislation. This legislation is intended to combine the all the parts of the President's longer term economic recovery plan--tax increases, tax cuts, spending cuts, and investment spending increases--into one package. The administration and Congress hope to complete and send this legislation to the White House before the August Congressional recess.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 8, 1993
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