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Lawmakers Predict Economic Hardship

Western Republicans warned President Clinton on Thursday he will bring further economic hardship to timber communities and exacerbate fire threats on national forests if he vetoes a spending bill that exempts some logging from environmental laws.

“There’s going to be more misery in timber towns and very likely be forest fires far worse than if these salvage logging operations were carried out,” Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said during a news conference at the Capitol.

Clinton has threatened to veto a comprehensive spending and rescission bill that would provide disaster relief to California, Oklahoma City and flooded Midwest towns while cutting $9.5 billion from the current budget.

The president said last week the Gorton amendment related to logging is one reason he opposes the measure, which has won the tentative endorsement of a House-Senate conference committee but still awaiting final passage.

Backers say the accelerated logging would produce more than 80,000 timber jobs over the next three years.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said Clinton’s veto threat was a “slap in the face” to Western working men and women.

Environmentalists said the lawmakers were exaggerating the job impact and ignoring the ecological harm that could result from the increased logging.