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White House slows Soviet aid, pushes for public support first.

The efforts of the leaders of the nation's cities and towns to put the Congress on notice against increasing aid to Russia's communities while cutting aid to America's communities (see Nation's Cities Weekly April 13), have forced the White House to delay its demand for immediate action and to redouble its campaign for support of a revenue sharing package for Russia and the other former Soviet Republics.

The delay comes against a groundswell of concern about spending more money to help foreign communities as the Congress begins consideration this week of President Bush's requests for cuts in federal aid to America's cities and towns. It comes as a majority of communities near the final stages of their own municipal budgets and confront the hard decisions of how to pay for unfunded federal mandates.

At an April 7 news conference in Washington, D.C., NLC Executive Director Don Borut along with Paul Agidius, the mayor of Moscow, Idaho called into question the President's desire to help citizens of Russia's Moscow before helping U.S. citizens in places like Moscow, Idaho; Moscow, Penn.; or Moscow, Maine or any other American community.

Despite the initial request of President Bush for the Congress to act on an emergency basis on the Russian aid package this week, the administration has not submitted any legislative package to the Congress. Not only has there been no official request, but neither U.S. Secretary of State James Baker nor Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has said exactly how much new money they are requesting from the Congress for Russia.

In a speech last week trying to explain to American taxpayers why foreign communities ought to receive more and their own communities less, Baker said America's approach to post Cold War policy must be to build a democratic peace around the world.

He charged that those who advocate "America first" patriotism are "avoiding the challenges of our times by pretending they do not exist."

While waiting for the details of the administration's new spending requests, Congress is expected to begin consideration of administration proposals to cut existing funding for communities and to begin the process of deciding how to cut some 6.7 billion in domestic discretionary funding to the nation's communities for next year.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 27, 1992
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