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Passage of city aid linked to Russian bailout.

The House voted overwhelmingly on August 6 to pass a massive aid bill to the former states of the Soviet Union, but only after the administration tentatively agreed to a number of new initiatives for American communities. The $24 billion foreign aid measure has been one of the highest priorities of the Bush administration.

The action came long before any final action by Congress on any urban aid bill, but would provide much more in funding to Russian cities and towns than any pending proposal. The Russian aid bill now goes to a conference with the Senate to work out differences between the House and Senate passed versions before going to the President for final approval.

Democratic support for the measure came, however, only after the administration agreed to a number of new initiatives for American cities and towns.

For months the House Democratic leadership had supported the position taken by community leaders across the country to delay action on the Russian bailout until the administration supported comparable domestic initiatives. On August 5, administration officials from the President's budget office and the Department of Transportation agreed in a meeting with House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Majority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) to accelerate about $370 million in public works spending and to make as much as $2 billion in new loan guarantees available to American communities as early as next year.

"I do not know how we can do this for Russia or anybody else and continue to ignore our cities," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

But House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a strong opponent of emergency assistance to American communities this year, told his colleagues:

"If you vote no today, be sure in your hearts that you understand the burden that you are taking, because you are willing to risk the collapse of democracy in Russia and stand to one side and do nothing about it."

The House-passed foreign aid package includes $12.3 billion for the International Monetary Fund, up to $3 billion for an international currency stabilization fund, $417 million in bilateral aid, $650 million in defense funds, $100 million in security assistance.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Aug 17, 1992
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