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Senate passes emergency package for cities, towns.

The Senate late Thursday night passed and sent to conference with the House a short term emergency assistance package (HR 5132) to help all cities.

A $1.45 billion city package was added as an amendment by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) 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 requirement for cities.

Because the Senate went out on Memorial Day recess until next week, conferees will not be able to act and send the bill to President Bush until next week at the earliest.

The White House said the Hatch-Kennedy measure was "ill-conceived," but gave it qualified support because the President would not be required to provide any of the additional assistance. It would be entirely discretionary.

The emergency help is expected to face strong opposition by House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), however Gingrich last Thursday said that most cities are inefficiently run. He said mayors should be looking to their own internal reforms rather than seeking federal assistance.

"Big cities are extraordinarily inefficient and then they turn to us and say please tax everybody else so we can have more money."

The action came as the President's Chief of Staff Sam Skinner and Congressional leaders continued to meet in the Capitol and the White House on a modest urban aid package, Congress rejected proposals cut already approved funding for housing block grants and municipal wastewater construction grant funding, leaders in the House and Senate introduced bills to extend expiring municipal tax programs, and Congress reached agreement and passed a budget resolution for FY 1993.

Last week also marked the first major response to the tragic events of Los Angeles when Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) became the first member of Congress to introduce a comprehensive urban assistance package. Dubbed the "Urban Marshall Plan to Rebuild Our Cities," Shays proposed a seven-part, $68 billion package as well as a series of proposals on how to finance the package, including:

* enterprise zones

* economic development block grants

* payments in lieu of taxes for public housing

* environmental stabilization

* national service

* welfare reform, and a

* mandate relief act.

Short Term Emergency City Assistance

The Hatch-Kennedy amendment includes $700 million for summer youth jobs, $250 million for summer Head Star 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.

During debate on the bill, the Senate rejected by a 37-62 vote an amendment by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to strip the city-assistance package and rejected a separate amendment 45-52 which would have required offsetting spending cuts from other programs currently going to cities and towns.

Allocation of the summer youth job assistance created the greatest difficulty, both at the White House and in the Senate. 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 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 30th of this year.

Comprehensive City Response Discussions

House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) was selected to chair the Congressional-White House discussions on a more comprehensive urban relief package as key leaders continued to meet through the week.

House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) indicated there was some possibility of a break through on some relief measures very soon, but made clear that the Congressional leadership and administration are far apart on the scope of any response to provide relief to the nation's cities.

Rescissions

Congress completed negotiations and passed and sent to the White House legisaltion, HR 4990, rescinding or cutting $8.1 billion in already enacted programs late Thursday--after rejected NLC-opposed cuts in the HOME state and local housing block grant and the EPA municipal wastewater construction grants revolving loan programs. As approved, the bill would retroactively cut $757 million in domestic spending and nearly $7.3 billion in defense spending for this year.

Extenders

Bipartisan leaders in both the House and Senate late Thursday introduced asyet unnumbered bills to extend the expiring municipal mortgage revenue and small issue idb bound and other expiring tax programs.

In the, Sens. John Danforth (R-Mo.) and David Boren (D-Okla.) introduced a bill to extend the expiring provisions from their current deadline of June 30, 1992 for 18 months to December 30, 1993.

Reps. Frank Guarini (D-N.J.) and Ray McGrath (R-N.Y.) introduced a similar bill in the House, following introduction of a similar bill last week by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.). The Rangel bills is nearly identical, except it would extend the low income housing tax credit permanently.

According to Danforth and Guarini majorities of each of their respective tax writing committees have signed on in support of the bills. Although no decisions have been made, many in the House and Senate are pushing for the key municipal extenders to be included in any comprehensive city relief package --both to speed up action on such a package and to ensure action prior to June 30th.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:May 25, 1992
Words:978
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