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House Oks Grants To Fight Crime Measure Would Wipe Out Program To Put 100,000 More Police Officers On The Street

The House passed the centerpiece of the Republican anti-crime package Tuesday, voting to create block grants for local governments while eliminating President Clinton’s program to hire more police.

But the latest milestone in the House GOP’s “Contract with America” agenda faces a far less certain future in the Senate. And Clinton, who has demanded that his police program remain untouched, has threatened to veto it if it reaches his desk.

“I’m not going to let them wreck our crime bill, which is putting 100,000 new cops on the street,” Clinton said Tuesday in an interview with Huntington, W.Va., television station WSAZ-TV.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the Judiciary Committee he chairs will have to rewrite the House package to secure Senate passage and come up with a bill that Clinton will be compelled to sign.

The sixth and final bill in the crime package, passed by a 238-192 largely party-line vote, replaces crimeprevention programs and a commitment to help put 100,000 new cops on the streets - two cornerstones of the 1994 anti-crime law - with a $10 billion block grant that local governments can use as they see fit to fight crime.The vote was immediately criticized by police groups.

Passage gave the new Republican majority their fifth major legislative triumph less than halfway through the 100 days in which their “Contract With America” promised votes on a number of issues. The House GOP previously won passage of a balanced-budget amendment, a measure giving the president a lineitem veto on spending bills, a bill to end unfunded mandates on state and local governments and a bill, already signed into law, making lawmakers abide by the same employment laws private employers must obey.

Elsewhere in Congress on Tuesday:

The Senate rejected a Democratic bid to exempt Social Security from a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said that in spite of the mostly party-line 57-41 vote, “For the moment, everybody is willing to protect Social Security.”

A House Ways and Means subcommittee drafted welfare-reform legislation giving states almost complete control over their troubled foster care programs.