Democrats launched a long-shot bid to rescue $1.3 billion in education and children’s initiatives Thursday as the Senate neared passage of a Republican plan slicing $15 billion from social programs.
Outnumbered Democrats seemed unlikely to head off the bill, which the Clinton administration opposes. But as it has done with numerous GOP efforts to cut spending this year, the minority party was hoping to persuade voters that the proposed reductions were blunt-edged attacks on programs aimed at the neediest Americans.
“To cut off aid to children, to cut off aid to educational opportunities for children is, as we say in South Dakota, eating the seed corn,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told reporters.
Republicans said their effort to delete money already enacted into law - a process called rescissions - would trim waste. They noted that their bill was $2 billion smaller than the House-passed legislation, and but a tiny fraction of the GOP’s forthcoming $1.2 trillion effort to balance the budget by the year 2002.
“If they’re not for cutting out a few dollars in rescissions, how could they possibly be serious about getting a balanced budget over the next seven years?” Senate Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., asked in an interview.
The Senate bill would restore many cuts the House bill would impose on programs including home-heating aid, education, jobs programs and public broadcasting.