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Key Element of Clinton Economic Plan Clears Senate Hurdle

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WASHINGTON--The Senate last week approved a five-year plan to reduce the federal deficit that hews closely to President Clinton's proposal and budget guidelines passed earlier by the House.

Immediately after the March 25 vote, the Senate turned to Mr. Clinton's $16 billion, two-year plan to spur the economy, which includes million of dollars in new spending for education and related programs. Action on that bill was delayed, however, by a filibuster late last week.

The Senate's deficit-reduction plan, outlined in the 1994 budget resolution, recommends that education, job-training, and social-service programs receive $54.9 billion in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Of that amount, $40.3 billion would be for discretionary programs.

The House version of the resolution calls for $56 billion in education and related spending, including $41.4 billion for discretionary programs. President Clinton sought $56.8 billion over all and $42.1 billion for discretionary programs.

The House and Senate resolutions fix grand totals for spending and revenues for fiscal 1994 and propose similar targets for future fiscal years. The actual amount that the Education Department and programs under it will receive will be determined through subsequent legislation and appropriations.

The Senate passed its budget resolution, S Con Res 18, by a vote of 54 to 45 after six days of debate. It calls for $502 billion in deficit reduction by fiscal 1998, $63 billion more in savings than the President proposed and slightly more than the House suggested.

Loan Program

Before passing the bill, the Senate voted 51 to 47 to reject an amendment offered by Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, the ranking Republican on the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, that would have lifted the spending ceiling for education and related programs in fiscal 1994 by about $3.3 billion.

The amendment was intended to stave off the possibility that, in hopes of saving money in fiscal 1994, Congress will abandon the Guaranteed Student Loan Program in favor a program under which the federal government will loan money directly to students.

Other Amendments

Senators also approved several "sense of the Senate'' amendments related to child and education programs, none of which affected the spending amounts recommended in the resolution.

In general, the amendments state that between now and fiscal 1998, funding for education programs, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and Head Start should be set at levels consistent with the major spending increases suggested by the President in his economic plan.

Another amendment, however, states that defense programs should not be raided in order to increase spending on domestic programs. Some budget analysts have suggested that the President and his allies in Congress can build up domestic programs only by slashing military spending.

Economic-Stimulus Bill

The Senate leadership had hoped to act quickly on HR 1335, Mr. Clinton's $16.3 billion economic-stimulus bill, which the chamber took up as soon as it completed work on the budget resolution.

But the leaders were thwarted by a nearly five-hour filibuster by John B. Breaux, D-La., and David L. Boren, D-Okla.

The two lawmakers sought support for an amendment, opposed by the President and Senate leaders, that would delay the spending of $8.44 billion under the bill until Congress completes work on overall spending cuts.

Under plan offered by Mr. Breaux and Mr. Boren, $7.96 billion would be made available immediately, including $1 billion for summer jobs for youth, $500 million each for Chapter 1 and Head Start summer programs, and $150 million for childhood immunizations.

The $8.44 billion that would be held up includes another $150 million for immunizations, $235 million for school districts that receive less Chapter 1 aid due to population declines in the 1990 Census, $1.86 billion to alleviate a Pell Grant shortfall, and $15 million for a national-service summer program.

The Senate was expected to resume debate on the bill late last week.

The Clinton Administration has indicated that it wants the bill passed before the April 5 Congressional recess in order to give state and local governments enough time to plan for the new and expanded programs.

Before sending it to the floor, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the economic-stimulus bill by a vote of 19 to 10.

The House approved HR 1335 and its version of the budget resolution earier this month.

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