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Foley says no Russian aid 'til U.S. cities are helped.

House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) last week made clear that the House would be unlikely to consider President Bush's Russian emergency bailout assistance plan unless and until there is agreement and action on a long term and comprehensive assistance plan for the nation's cities.

The NLC-supported statement came as NLC President Glenda Hood urged House and Senate conferees to move quickly on the city emergency assistance plan in order to ensure that summer school and summer youth job funds are available to cities before schools let out for summer vacation.

Foley's statement came as President Bush stepped up pressure on the Congress to act on the Russian aid package prior to Boris Yeltsin's visit to the White House scheduled for June 16, stating in a commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy that the United States cannot turn away from assistance to Russia under pressure to address problems at home.

NLC President Hood had written to members of the House last month urging Congress to act first on a comprehensive plan to address city issues before sharing more revenue abroad. She urged members to defer any consideration of the President's $24 billion Russian bailout package until after agreement on a rebuild American communities plan was enacted.

The Congressional and White House statements came during a week when the Senate was in its Memorial Day recess, deferring negotiations on any comprehensive aid package and a conference with the House on short term emergency assistance for cities and towns until this week.

House and Senate negotiators are expected to meet as early as today to work out agreement on a short term emergency assistance package (HR 5132) to help all cities.

The Senate had added a $1.45 billion city package to the House-passed bill, which provides for $495 million in emergency recovery assistance to Chicago and Los Angeles. The Senate amendment would provide emergency summer youth employment, job training, anti-drug, and Head Start assistance to cities. The Senate also adopted an amendment to waive urban transit match requirements for cities.

The Senate version includes $700 million for summer youth jobs, $250 million for summer Head Start programs, $250 million for summer school assistance for disadvantaged youth, and $250 million for the "weed and seed" program. As drafted, all of the assistance would be "emergency assistance" and thus exempt from federal budget rules; however, any assistance to cities and towns in any of the approved categories would be entirely at the discretion of the President.

Allocation of the summer youth job assistance could create the greatest bar to quick agreement and final action by Congress. Under a complicated agreement worked out between Sens. Robert Dole (R-Kans.), John Seymour (R-Calif.), and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), $100 million of the total would be allocated to the nation's 75 largest cities, $100 million would be allocated to the states-to be allocated within states at the governors' discretion, and the remainder would be allocated by a Hatch-Kennedy formula which takes into account the relative number and concentration of "economically disadvantaged" individuals and the unemployment rate of a municipality.

The Senate also adopted an NLC-supported amendment by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) which would exempt local governments from the public transportation Section 9 match or payback requirements for any funds obligated by September 30 of this year.
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Title Annotation:Thomas S. Foley
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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