Gramm Says Republicans Will Toughen Crime Bill With AM-Welfare-Republicans, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The new Republican majority in Congress will seek to change the anti-crime bill to eliminate social programs aimed at preventing crime, but will probably not try to overturn the ban on some assault weapons, Sen. Phil Gramm said Sunday.
Republicans want ″a real crime bill that recognizes that if social programs prevented crimes, this would be the safest spot on the planet, that grabs violent criminals by the throat, puts them in prison (and) stops building prisons like Holiday Inns,″ Gramm said.
The Texas senator, speaking on NBC’s ″Meet the Press,″ also said he will file papers with the Federal Election Commission this week as a first step to declaring his candidacy for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.
Gramm indicated that his party, anticipating President Clinton’s veto, would not try to overturn the Brady law that requires a waiting period for firearms purchases or the ban on some assault weapons included in the $30 billion anti-crime legislation passed this year.
But he said the new Congress would move to change provisions in the law that took away minimum mandatory sentences for drug felons, adding: ″We’re not going to lose any more gun votes in this century.″
The crime bill focused on putting more police on the streets and providing more money for prisons, but struggled through Congress because Republicans objected to weapons bans and complained that money was going to ineffective pork-barrel social programs.
Gramm and soon-to-be House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., also said welfare reform will be a top priority, with emphasis on putting current welfare recipients to work.
″We have got to change the system - if we want to save our country - to assure that all of our people use their God-given talents,″ Gramm said.
Gingrich, appearing on ABC’s ″This Week With David Brinkley,″ suggested he would deny welfare payments to all able-bodied people, and ask those without jobs to turn to private charity.
Gingrich said he would like to privatize government-backed cultural groups such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
But the next Senate majority leader, Bob Dole of Kansas, injected a note of caution about talk of rapid changes under the new Republican Congress.
″A lot of people are feeling their oats these days,″ Dole said on CBS’ ″Face the Nation.″ ″Not everything is going to happen. Some of these things we’ll have to phase in or change or modify.″
He said a middle-class tax cut, a top item on the Republican agenda, ″won’t happen overnight.″
Dole also showed little enthusiasm for quick action on changing the policy on gays in the military or prayer in the schools. He said the Senate will move promptly in areas directly affecting Congress, such as cutting staff, lobbying reform and term limits, and will take up a balanced budget amendment.
Gramm also said there was no consensus to support an amendment to ban abortion, and none of the Republicans interviewed Sunday advocated immediate action on overhauling the tax code, including an idea floated last week to replace income taxes with a ″consumption tax″ on all purchases. Gingrich said subsidies to American farmers would not be eliminated as long as European farmers were protected by their governments.
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., in line to take over the Senate Banking Committee chair, pledged on NBC that he will step up the Whitewater investigation he has headed, saying hearings on the Arkansas real estate deal involving Clinton and his wife will resume early in the next session.
But he promised ″there will be no witchhunts″ and ″we are not going to go in like a bulldozer.″