Veto gridlock relegates bills to the boneyard

October 08, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Far more legislation than usual was consigned to the congressional boneyard this year as the Democratic-controlled Senate and House lost 35 veto battles with President Bush and enacted only one law over his objections.

In addition, some measures pushed hard by the White House were narrowly defeated and Democratic leaders allowed other bills to languish because they lacked enough support.

As a result, the new Congress is likely to revisit many bills with their chances for enactment hinging largely on who wins the White House in November.

While Democrats are expected to retain control of both chambers after Nov. 3, the size of their majorities and the ideological makeup of the new Congress also will determine what legislation is resurrected.

No matter what the election outcome, however, some bipartisan perennials, such as an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget, are likely to emerge again after failing by a narrow margin this year.

Republican leaders already plan to force another vote on the controversial amendment in the House next year. Prospects in the Senate remained uncertain.

Both Democrats and Republicans will renew efforts to pass anti-crime legislation, aid to local schools and a popular proposal to impose a five-day waiting period on the purchase of handguns.

In addition, both parties plan to advance health care proposals, even though yearlong efforts by Democrats to devise a plan failed to produce a consensus in either the House or Senate. If he is re-elected, the president would renew his own health care proposal.

If Mr. Clinton is victorious, however, the 103rd Congress is likely to churn out immediately a dozen or more bills that were victims of Mr. Bush's veto ax but already have the Arkansas governor's support.

Both the House and Senate, for example, are poised to adopt legislation that would require large firms to grant employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth, illness or other emergencies. Mr. Bush vetoed it twice and Congress was unable to override him. Clinton, however, has promised to approve it if elected.

A Democratic Congress also would be likely next year to respond quickly to a Clinton proposal to reduce taxes on middle-income Americans. Bush vetoed such a measure last spring, complaining it would be offset by higher taxes on upper-income earners.

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