Clinton Signs Unfunded Mandate Bill; Shouts Mark Welfare Debate
In their ``Contract With America,″ House Republicans promised action in 10 areas during the first 100 days of the GOP-controlled Congress.
On Wednesday, Day 78:
_President Clinton signed into law a bill requiring Congress to pay for many of the programs it imposes on state and local government, a ``Contract With America″ proposal.
_Amid flashes of anger, shouts and even boos, the House devoted a second day to debating welfare reform. Anti-abortion forces, fearful the bill would encourage young women to have abortions, were defeated, 217-211, in an attempt to scuttle the bill.
_The Senate Appropriations Committee’s 13 subcommittee chairmen put finishing touches on a measure expected to cancel nearly $17 billion previously approved spending for the current fiscal year. That would match spending cuts already approved by the House.
_The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would increase the prison terms for people convicted of violating federal child pornography and prostitution laws.
The legislative status of chief ``contract″ items:
_Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget by 2002. Passed House. Defeated in Senate.
_Bill giving the president power to veto individual spending items in appropriations bills. Senate is debating measure; House passed its version 294-134 on Feb. 6.
_Bill to discourage Congress from imposing requirements on states and cities without providing funds to pay for them. Bill passed, Clinton signed into law.
_House debating welfare reform. No Senate action yet. The bill would replace the federal system with payments to the states, that could design their own plans. Overall federal welfare spending would shrink by $66.4 billion over five years. The measure would limit the federal role in setting nutrition standards and in caring for the country’s most disadvantaged families, impose a five-year limit on cash welfare benefits, ban aid to unmarried parents under age 18 and repeal the automatic guarantee to benefits for low-income mothers and their children. The bill also would combine school breakfast and lunch, day-care feeding, and Women, Infants and Children feeding programs in block grants. Passed House committee.
_Funds for prison construction, relaxed standards for admission of evidence in trials, block grants instead of earmarked funds to hire police, limit death-row inmates’ abilities to appeal cases to federal court. Passed House. Senate prospects uncertain.
_Tax breaks for adoptions and elder care, child-support enforcement. Awaiting committee consideration.
_$500 per child tax credit, reduced marriage tax penalty, expanded IRA savings accounts. House hearings completed.
DEFENSE AND FOREIGN POLICY
_Cut spending on peacekeeping operations, restrict putting U.S. forces under United Nations command. Passed House. Provision to restore funding for ``Star Wars″ missile defense system defeated by House.
_Raise Social Security earnings limit, repeal 1993 tax increase. House hearing held.
JOBS AND BUSINESS
_Require federal agencies to assess the risk and cost of new regulations. Passed House. Clinton hints at veto.
_Impose six-month moratorium on new regulations. Passed House. Senate prospects uncertain; Clinton hints at veto.
_Cut capital gains tax. House hearings completed.
_Make it easier for companies to defend themselves against lawsuits alleging securities fraud. House passed bill 325-99, suggesting it would survive a hinted presidential veto.
_Make it easier for businesses to prevail in product-liability cases and harder for consumers to win certain damage awards. House passed 265-161; faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
_Constitutional amendment to limit how long someone can serve in House or Senate. Awaiting House debate, defeat likely. Passed Senate committee.