GOP chief says Democrats may cause missed 'Contract' deadline

January 20, 1995|By Hearst Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- GOP Chairman Haley Barbour held out the possibility yesterday that House Republicans might fail to meet their goal of voting on 10 specific bills in the first 100 days of the new Congress.

If the April 13 deadline is missed, Mr. Barbour said, Democratic-inspired delays will have been to blame.

"I think the American people will hold it against the Democrats if the 100-day deadline is not met," Mr. Barbour told a news conference on the opening day of the Republican National Committee's annual meeting here.

"The American people are not stupid. They are seeing what's happening in Congress, seeing delay for the sake of delay," he said.

Today, the party is to officially name San Diego as the site of its 1996 national presidential nominating convention.

Assessing the progress of the House GOP's "Contract with America," Mr. Barbour said the White House supported what he described as a delay strategy of House Democrats. Asked whether the White House was blameless for the slowdown in the House, Mr. Barbour replied: "I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.

"You may be right that the delay strategy is being done without the White House's knowledge or direction, but I doubt it." The House Republicans had set a goal of holding floor votes on 10 specific bills within the first 100 days of the new Congress. But Senate and House Democrats have delayed action on the GOP initiatives.

In the House, Democrats continued to slow action yesterday on a measure to protect states and localities from paying the costs of federal programs known as unfunded mandates. In the Senate, Democrats delayed action on a similar bill and threatened to keep slowing action on the Republicans' top priority, a balanced-budget amendment. Mr. Barbour accused Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., of being the main culprit behind the delays in the Senate.

"We won in 1994 because the American people rejected Bill Clinton's policies and embraced Republican policies of smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending, policies of more individual freedom and personal responsibilities," Mr. Barbour said. "The Democrats have shown that the last thing they want to talk about is issues."

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