Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

$16.3 Billion in Cuts Clears Clinton's Desk Social Programs Trimmed in Compromise Bill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

$16.3 Billion in Cuts Clears Clinton's Desk Social Programs Trimmed in Compromise Bill

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton signed a bill containing $16.3 billion in social program cuts Thursday in a compromise with Congress.

Clinton also won another victory as the House overwhelmingly voted to protect the administration-backed space station from elimination.

But in a day of mixed budget messages, representatives also neared approval of new slashes in housing and environmental efforts that steered the two sides back toward a collision.

Seven weeks after vetoing an earlier version as too harsh, Clinton signed the new bill trimming scores of ongoing education, job-training and other programs. The bill also contains $7.2 billion for California and other states that have been hit by natural disasters, for anti-terrorism efforts stemming from the Oklahoma City bombing and $275 million in debt relief for Jordan in return for its peace pact with Israel.

Republicans began the effort to make cuts in already approved spending five months ago as a first step in their balanced budget drive. But stalemate reigned until lawmakers restored $733 million for school revisions and other administration priorities. Congress finally sent Clinton the bill last week.

"We agree we should balance the budget; we disagree on how," the president said as he signed the measure at the White House. "But this shows that we can work through those disagreements."

No sooner had Clinton spoken Thursday than the House took up a $79.4 billion measure for the coming fiscal year that would shrink housing aid for the poor and the elderly and slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by one-third.

The bill also would restrict enforcement of air- and water-pollution and food-safety laws, kill Clinton's national service program, and reduce spending for NASA, veterans and dozens of other programs. Overall, the bill would spend $11 billion less than this year and $10.5 billion less than Clinton requested.

"This bill represents the urgent need to put Uncle Sam on a diet," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that wrote the bill.

In a series of votes, the chamber rejected efforts, mostly by Democrats, to restore some of the housing funds. But it voted 299-126 against a move by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to kill the planned space station.

Obey's amendment would have shifted $1.6 billion of the $2.1 billion for the station next year to veterans, housing, other space programs and fdeficit reduction. …

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