Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole, Daschle Try to Keep Spending Cuts Plan Alive

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole, Daschle Try to Keep Spending Cuts Plan Alive

Article excerpt

Senate leaders sought to revive a stalled $15 billion package of cuts in social programs Thursday after liberal Democrats balked at a potential compromise.

Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., labored to find middle ground on the spending measure Thursday after Democrats rejected a tentative deal the two men - with the backing of President Bill Clinton - struck Wednesday night.

That agreement would have protected programs for children, housing and jobs from some Republican-sought cuts while slashing other programs even deeper, raising its total savings to $16 billion. But Democrats, worried that the deal still wounded anti-poverty initiatives that the party has long defended, rebuffed their leader and rejected it.

"It's more than numbers," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. "It's policy. It's principle. It's a question of what you stand for."

The measure is a top priority for Dole and other GOP senators eager to prove that they are as zealous about deficit reduction as their faster-moving House brethren. The House already has approved a spending bill slashing $17 billion from home heating aid, education, public broadcasting and other programs.

With the stakes that high, Dole vowed to delay the beginning of the Senate's recess today until lawmakers completed the spending-cuts bill. He tried to limit debate, which began March 29, but Democrats held together. The 56-44 roll call was four votes shy of the 60 needed to force a quick vote.

"Be patient, take two aspirins, take a nap, whatever," Dole advised his Republican colleagues as he promised that, one way or another, the bill would be completed.

Even Daschle conceded that Dole eventually would get the votes he needs to pass the spending-cuts bill. He said Democrats might as well accept a toned-down measure that protects some programs from cuts sought by the GOP, and share credit with Republicans for the bill's deficit reduction and $6.7 billion disaster assistance to states. …

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