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Clinton To Back Food Stamps Bill

March 26, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration signaled support Thursday for Republican legislation that would restore food stamp benefits to about 250,000 legal immigrants cut off by the 1996 welfare overhaul law.

That represents just 34 percent of the 730,000 immigrants President Clinton sought benefits for. But Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said the GOP effort ``would go a long way toward enacting the president’s proposal″ and he will recommend the measure be signed into law.

The administration, Glickman added, ``will continue to work with Congress to seek enactment″ of the full request.

The White House estimates the five-year cost of Clinton’s request at more than $2.4 billion. House and Senate negotiators earlier this week agreed to spend $642 million for immigrant food stamps.

The legislation still must pass both chambers to get to the president.

Glickman said the bill would restore benefits for children, the elderly and disabled, refugees and those seeking asylum, and Vietnamese Hmong who helped the United States during the war in Southeast Asia.

``Immigrants who are in this country legally, paying taxes, contributing to our economy and enriching our society deserve our assistance when they need it,″ Glickman said.

The food stamp provisions were attached to an agricultural research bill. The measure initially earmarked $1.8 billion in food stamp overhead savings for additional research.

Instead, the savings will be split among food stamps, $600 million for research, $100 million for rural development and $470 million to make permanent the commissions for agents who write crop insurance, another administration request.

``It is important that the program be funded on a stable, predictable basis, which this bill will provide,″ Glickman said.

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