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G.O.P. Leaders Seek To Head Off Veto of '95 Budget Bill

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Faced with a likely veto by President Clinton, G.O.P. leaders are looking at ways to change a bill that would cut $16.4 billion in federal spending this fiscal year.

Mr. Clinton pledged to veto the rescissions bill unless $1.4 billion in proposed cuts to education and social programs were restored. The bill, which would provide $7.2 billion for disaster relief, would trim $874 billion from the Education Department's budget for fiscal 1995. (See Education Week, 5/24/95.)

It is a "poorly kept secret" that negotiations are under way between the White House and Congressional leaders, Rep. John Edward Porter, R-Ill., the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, said last week. While a vote in the Senate last week marked the final Congressional approval of the bill, Mr. Porter said it was still possible that a compromise could be reached before the bill went to Mr. Clinton.

"The President may see it in a somewhat different light, but it doesn't mean we can't find some common ground," he said.

The Senate passed the bill, the compromise product of a House-Senate conference committee, on a 61-to-38 vote last week. The House approved it earlier this month.

Mr. Clinton said he supported the original Senate plan, which would have pared $403 million from education programs. It would also have cut less from other programs supported by the President than the conference plan would.

Specific Cuts Eyed

Specifically, Mr. Clinton wants to restore proposed cuts to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and the Corporation for National Service.

He proposed a list of what he called "pork projects" that he said could be eliminated instead, but the President's proposed cuts would not be enough to completely offset those he wants to restore.

Negotiations last week between the President and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., held after the House vote but before the Senate vote, failed to find common ground.

Republicans blasted the President last week for his stand.

"If President Clinton is serious about deficit reduction, he will sign the bill," said Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

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