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White House slows city relief, delaying key municipal programs.

White House opposition to emergency community assistance to provide summer youth job, anti-drug, and Head Start funds to cities and towns continued to delay and imperiled action in Congress on the issue--virtually guaranteeing that cities will have insufficient time to have job opportunities in place before schools let out across the country for summer vacation.

House and Senate conferees met for the first time on Thursday after days of negotiations with the White House. The negotiations have been held up over whether to include a Senate bipartisan plan to fund nearly $1 billion in emergency community assistance to all cities, or to restrict the bill to helping just families and businesses in Chicago and Los Angeles.

The administration has strongly opposed including any anti-crime, anti-drug or Head Start funding, and it has opposed summer youth job funding in excess of $500 million--taking the position that cities would not be able to spend the funds efficiently. The administration also strongly opposed including any public transportation or infrastructure assistance, such as the waiver of local matching requirements for public transit passed by the Senate.

According to Rep. Joseph McDade (R-Penn.), the ranking House Republican negotiator, the White House is only willing to accept about $500 million for cities of all sizes for summer youth employment programs in addition to the $492 million it already requested in emergency loans to families and businesses hurt by the flooding in the City of Chicago and by the civil disturbances in the City of Los Angeles.

The House and White House had initially agreed only on a $495 million assistance package for Los Angeles and Chicago, but Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) had added $1.5 billion in summer job, Head Start, summer school, and "weed and seed" funding opposed by the administration.

After a meeting with leading Republican mayors at the White House on Tuesday where some of the mayors made clear to the President's chief of staff that the summer job funds were critical to cities and had to be cleared before schools let out, the White House relented on its opposition to the summer youth job funding, clearing the way for a tentative agreement.

McDade warned that the President would veto any final House-Senate city aid package that included any summer youth funds in excess of $500 million, or any funds for summer school, Head Start, or direct anti-drug assistance to cities and towns.

The other holdup for Congressional negotiators has been concern expressed that the Hatch-Kennedy job funds were too targeted to the nation's 75 largest cities, providing disproportionately smaller funds to medium and smaller cities with comparable levels of crime, poverty, and unemployment. House conferees felt confident that any final agreement would assure more equitable assistance to communities of all sizes, based upon need rather than size.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 8, 1992
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