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Rare opportunity awaits Clinton, 103rd Congress: a time to end gridlock.

The 103rd Congress was sworn in last week and adjourned until January 21, when President Clinton is expected to send up a shortterm job creation program that also includes long term deficit reduction proposals. While the Congressional leadership has its own short term agenda, including passing family leave and motor voter legislation, they are still sorting out priorities for the full year.

House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wa), who met with NLC President Don Fraser and NLC's leadership Thursday to begin to set a joint federal-city agenda, told his colleagues in his welcoming speech:

"There is an impatience that we have not moved fast enough or effectively enough to deal with the national deficit, to deal with our economic system and its advancement and growth, to ' deal with the problems of our health system that denies still to millions of Americans adequate and affordable health care, to provide educational opportunity for all our citizens, to reduce crime and to attack the problems of drugs and other social ills."

The opening came as the Senate began confirmation hearings on President-elect Bill Clinton's cabinet nominations and President Bush submitted his final version of the budget to the Congress. The opening session also came as the President-elect and his top economic advisors were meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas in an effort to put together an economic recovery package and a long term deficit reduction package.

Based upon hundreds of responses from city leaders to NLC President Fraser about the ability of cities and towns to implement an economic recovery program to provide immediate jobs with long term economic benefits, NLC Executive Director Don Borut had provided the Clinton economic team with the NLC Economic Recovery Plan and examples from cities and towns around the country of how effective the six-part plan could be in reviving local economies and the national economy. Fraser and NLC's officers carried the same message to Congressional leaders in key meetings last Thursday.

Borut said the overwhelming response from municipal leaders demonstrated "the enormous impact of a decade of disinvestment and unfunded mandates, while at the same time the great potential for cities to take the lead in restoring growth and opportunity for the nation's economy."

Bush budget

The final budget submitted by President Bush for 1994 proposed further deep cuts in vital city programs, a record federal deficit, and no new policy changes. The budget made clear the hurdles the President-e]cot Faces in attempting both to restart the nation's local economies while trying to reduce the deficit.

By law, President-elect Clinton is required submit his version of the 1994 budget to the Congress by February 1, giving him and. his new Budget Director Leon Panetta less than 10 days to attempt to put together nearly a '$1.5 trillion budget. Clinton is likely to submit a broad outline of his budget priorities next month, with details to follow in March.

But the final Bush budget predicts record and growing deficits, even while proposing no new domestic investment over the next five years and deep cuts in key city programs. The budget numbers, which many in the Clinton transition team projected to underestimate the actual deficits, demonstrate the difficulty the new administration will confront in attempting to simultaneously invest in local economies while cutting the deficit.

NLC Past President Cathy Reynolds represented NLC in support of former Mayor Federico Pena last Thursday in his confirmation hearing before the =Senate Commerce Committee to be the new Secretary of Transportation.

The Senate also held conformation hearings last week for Robert Reich to be the new Secretary of Labor, Ronald Brown to be the new Secretary of Commerce, and Congressman Les Aspin (D-Wi) to be the new Secretary of Defense.
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Title Annotation:includes related 1993 Congressional schedule
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jan 11, 1993
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