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Clinton, Congress Agree On Spending Cuts


After months of debate, negotiations and temper-fraying delays, the Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved and sent to President Clinton a massive spending-cuts bill.

A short while later, the president said he would sign the measure. He had vetoed an earlier version of the bill.

The measure also provides about $5 billion to California for disaster relief to recover from the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake. It also contains $290 million to help Oklahoma City rebuild after the April 19 terrorist bombing that killed 168 people as well as $275 million in debt relief for Jordan.

The bill cuts $16 billion from spending in the current fiscal year, the new Congress’ down payment in its controversial drive to balance the budget in seven years.

Despite the bill’s tortuous and at times uncertain route to final passage, the Senate in the end approved the measure by a vote of 90-7.

Passage was ensured after Republicans agreed to allow two final votes Friday morning on amendments offered by two Democrats who wanted to restore funding for programs that help the poor pay utility bills and provide job training. Both measures lost.

Meanwhile, a GOP-sought regulatory reform bill was on the critical list after the Senate Thursday night defeated a third attempt by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., to cut off debate. After that, Dole all but declared the measure dead, although he did not pull it from the floor.

The bill’s backers, including some Democrats, clung to the hope Friday that they could still persuade just two more Democratic senators to change their votes and support a motion to end debate, which requires 60 votes. Only 58 senators voted Thursday night to cut off debate.

The measure would markedly curtail the ability of the executive branch to issue rules and regulations on a wide range of health and safety matters.

Also on Thursday night, the Senate handily defeated a proposal by Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, to end set-asides for minorities and women in federal contracting.

Gramm offered his surprise amendment to an appropriations bill for the legislative branch, but it lost by a vote of 61-36.

On the 1995 spending-cut bill, the final compromise was the result of weeks of negotiations between the White House and Republican congressional leaders.

It passed the House last month but foundered in the Senate because of objections from two liberal Democrats, Sens. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois.


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