House votes for 45-day funding Stopgap bill holds most agencies to 1995 budgets

Foreign aid will continue

Congress, White House still in disagreement on raising debt ceiling

January 26, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans and the White House agreed yesterday on a deal that would provide 45 days of spending for parts of the government that are still without a permanent budget and free enough money to allow most foreign aid programs to continue for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The House approved the temporary spending measure last evening by a vote of 371-42, after rejecting a Democratic attempt to restore money for education.

In the Senate, scheduled to vote today, Democrats warned yesterday that they, too, would try to restore education money. But they are not expected to prevail.

If the full measure is approved in the Senate, as is considered likely, a third government shutdown would be averted.

As Congress concentrated on efforts to keep the government open, disagreements arose about efforts to prevent it from defaulting on its debt after March 1, when it is expected to hit its $4.9 trillion limit on borrowing.

Senate Democrats, impatient with Republican plans to wait until next month to deal with the issue, said last evening that they intend to introduce an amendment to the temporary spending measure that would raise the debt limit without conditions.

With Republicans holding a 53-46 majority in the Senate, that amendment is unlikely to pass.

Speaker Newt Gingrich has said that House Republicans will vote to give the administration a 30-day extension on the debt limit, but only if the White House accepts some of the Republicans' legislative agenda on balancing the budget and cutting taxes.

That notion brought an emphatic rejection from the administration yesterday.

"We're now at the stage where we do not want to get bogged down in a long process of negotiation or create an addition to the debt limit that would very well become a legislative Christmas tree along the way," said Leon E. Panetta, the White House chief of staff. "We want to get the debt limit extended."

Twice in the past three months, parts of the federal government have been shut down for lack of agreement on all necessary spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The current spending measure expires at midnight today and if another is not in place, about a third of the government would be forced to close again.

Wrangling between the congressional Republicans and the Clinton administration, and among Republicans themselves, has delayed the spending measures. Polls show the Republicans are suffering as a result.

House Republicans made at least one last-minute concession in the temporary spending bill to try to avoid opposition in the Senate, backing off from an anti-abortion provision.

A bloc of House members opposed to abortion rights had insisted on banning the use of any foreign aid dollars for international population-control activities.

But the final version of the bill included Senate language that would allow such appropriations if they are authorized before July 1. If authorizations are not made by then, money for population assistance would be limited to 65 percent of last year's $548 million appropriation, or about $356 million.

Another provision in the bill would prohibit the use of federal money for embryo research. One official said the administration had accepted the restrictions after checking with the Department of Health and Human Services and finding that such a ban would not affect any pending or planned federal research.

In a swipe at the administration, the Republicans included in the bill a restriction prohibiting "excessive travel by Cabinet level secretaries." That provision was prompted by travel controversies involving the energy secretary, Hazel R. O'Leary, and the commerce secretary, Ronald H. Brown. The bill exempts the secretaries of state and defense, the director of central intelligence and the U.N. ambassador.

Facing the deadline at midnight tonight for a temporary spending bill, Mr. Gingrich and the rest of the House Republican leadership spent the past several days in a frantic effort to draw up a plan that would win the support of both a White House intent on protecting its priorities and conservative Republicans anxious to advance their political revolution.

The temporary spending resolutions are necessary because only seven of the 13 annual appropriation bills have been passed.

The plan that the Republicans offered yesterday, known as the Balanced Budget Downpayment Act, backs away from the party's threat to eliminate some of President Clinton's most cherished programs: the national service program known as Americorps, the so-called cops on the beat program, and a national drug-prevention program.

But the Republicans pressed ahead with their plans to kill the Office of Technology Assessment, the Bureau of Mines and a dozen other programs, most of them dealing with education and already targeted for elimination by the administration.

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