Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Not Just for Flood Relief How a $50 Million Jobs Plan for Youths Made It into Midwest Disaster Package

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Not Just for Flood Relief How a $50 Million Jobs Plan for Youths Made It into Midwest Disaster Package

Article excerpt

WHAT do Midwestern farmers and unemployed young men in South Central Los Angeles have in common? Not much. But both are beneficiaries of the $3 billion flood-relief bill the House passed last week.

The tale of how that came to pass says a great deal about the murky ways in which Congress makes laws.

The key mover in the drama was Rep. Maxine Waters (D), a fiery liberal representing South Central Los Angeles. Last year, Congress passed authorizing legislation for her Youth Fair Chance Program, designed to provide a lineup of job-training services for 14-to-30-year-olds in high-poverty areas.

This year, President Clinton included $250 million for the program in his $16.3 billion economic-stimulus plan. But that bill was killed by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The only part salvaged was $320 million for summer jobs, passed by Congress in late June. As part of that "supplemental" appropriation, the Youth Fair Chance Program received $50 million.

Ms. Waters thought her program had been launched. But when aides read the fine print, they found that the language did not include a $100-per-week stipend for participants and a ratio of 1 caseworker per 25 participants. "If you don't have those provisions, people will just drop out of the program," says Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for Waters.

Republican members of the conference committee that approved the summer-jobs program say those provisions were left out because they were too controversial. But Waters and House leaders contend that their exclusion was an oversight.

Rep. William Natcher (D) of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, had assured the leadership that "Mrs. Waters would be taken care of in the summer-jobs bill," says George Crawford, staff director of the House Rules Committee. "When that did not happen, the leadership looked for the next possible opportunity to rectify the mistake."

And the next bill coming up for House consideration was ... the flood-relief measure! So the House Rules Committee crafted a clever rule - a measure setting terms of debate on a bill - for the flood-relief package. …

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