House Approves Economic-Stimulus, Budget Plan
WASHINGTON--The House last week endorsed two key elements of President Clinton's economic plan: a supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year and a five-year budget blueprint that would essentially freeze discretionary spending through fiscal 1997.
Approval of HR 1553, the supplemental appropriations bill, and H Con Res 64, the budget resolution for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, came after House Democrats beat back several challenges to both measures.
The $16.2 billion supplemental, which was proposed by the President as a short-term stimulus to the economy, faced particularly harsh criticism from conservative Democrats who sought to scale back the spending plan because they consider some of the elements unnecessary in a recovering economy.
It includes an additional $1 billion for summer youth-employment programs, $1.86 billion to reduce the Pell Grant shortfall, $500 million for a summer Chapter 1 program, $500 million for a summer Head Start program, and $235 million for cities that will find their Chapter 1 allocations reduced as a result of a shift to 1990 Census data that reflect population growth in Sunbelt states.
A day before the vote late last week, the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters of debate regarding a bill, voted along party lines not to allow any of 34 proposed amendments to HR 1553 to reach the floor for a vote.
The Rules Committee, which is heavily influenced by the leadership, quashed the amendments out of fear that any challenge to the supplemental bill would jeopardize the President's whole economic package, which also includes his long-term tax, investment, and deficit-reduction plan.
Among the rejected amendments were proposals by Rep. Charles W. Stenholm, D-Tex., to eliminate about $10 billion in stimulus spending, or to offset the extra spending with cuts in the fiscal 1994 spending bill. A spokesman said Mr. Stenholm had not detailed the cuts he would make in HR 1553.
The rule did allow Rep. William H. Natcher, D-Ky., to offer an unspecified amendment. An aide to Mr. Natcher, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said this was an emergency fallback, which Mr. Natcher would have used to propose cutting projects that had drawn the fiercest objections had that been necessary to pass the bill. It was not, and the amendment was not offered.
Mr. Stenholm led opposition to the stimulus package on the House floor. But only 21 other Democrats joined him in voting against the bill, which was approved by a vote of 235 to 190.
Before taking action on the supplemental, the House approved, by a vote of 243 to 183, a budget resolution that calls for spending $56 billion on education, training, and social-services programs in fiscal 1994, including $41.4 billion in discretionary spending.
That compares with $51.5 billion over all and $37.1 billion in discretionary spending in fiscal 1993. President Clinton had requested $56.8 billion, including $42.1 billion in discretionary spending, for the spending category in 1994.
The resolution, which recommends funding levels for spending categories rather than individual programs, is intended to be a spending guideline for appropriators and is not binding.
The House voted down three proposed substitutes before approving H Con Res 64, the document written by the House Budget Committee.
By a vote of 295 to 135, the House defeated a budget resolution proposal offered by Rep. John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. Mr. Kasich's plan called for spending cuts beyond those assumed in H Con Res 64, including some in education programs.
It would have earmarked $51.5 billion for education, training, and social-services programs. (See Education Week, March 17, 1993.)
The House defeated a proposal from Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon, R-N.Y., by a vote of 409 to 20. Mr. Solomon's resolution combined elements of Mr. Kasich's proposal and the President's package, and did not specify spending by category.
A third substitute resolution, proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus, was rejected 335 to 87. It called for $61.2 billion for education, training, and social-services programs.
The Senate began debate on its fiscal 1994 resolution last week, but will not complete work on the measure until this week.
S Con Res 18, the resolution passed by the Senate Budget Committee earlier this month, recommends $54.9 billion for education, training, and social-services programs, including $40.3 billion for discretionary programs.
The Senate has yet to begin work on the supplemental spending bill, but several Democrats have indicated that they will attempt to strip it of key provisions.