Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Passes Crime Package Block Grants Replace Funds to Hire Police

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Passes Crime Package Block Grants Replace Funds to Hire Police

Article excerpt

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

The latest milestone in the House GOP's Contract with America agenda faces a difficult time in the Senate. And Clinton, who has demanded that his police program remain untouched, has threatened to veto the bill 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 WSAZ-TV in Huntington, W.Va.

The final bill in the House crime package was approved on a vote of 238-192. It would replace two cornerstones of the 1994 anti-crime law - crime-prevention programs and a commitment to help put 100,000 new officers on the streets - with a $10 billion block grant that local governments can use as they see fit to fight crime.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the Judiciary Committee he chairs will have to rewrite the House package of six crime bills to secure the proposals' passage in the Senate.

Hatch said it would be necessary to redraft the bills because of Senate filibuster rules that could allow debate to drag on indefinitely. He predicted it would take at least a month before the crime measure emerges from his committee.

Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., said non-controversial items in the package might be combined and separated from the measure concerning 100,000 new police. "I'm not interested in trying to give the president a challenge to veto a bill. It's more important that we get major crime revision passed," he said.

White House chief of staff Leon Panetta said the administration believed it had enough votes to sustain a veto of a crime bill that gutted the cops-on-the-beat program. "We would not be disappointed if that was one of the first vetoes we cast."

The block grant bill would give local governments $2 billion a year over the next five years for crime-fighting, replacing the $7.5 billion for community police and $3.9 billion for prevention programs that last year's law authorized for 1996-2000. …

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