Supplemental Funding Fight

Although both sides have pledged a smoother appropriations season this year for FY98, House Republicans and the Clinton Administration are headed for an early battle over the administration's supplemental funding request to boost domestic spending by $2.8 billion for FY97.

"It's a request that's made in bad faith," a House Appropriations Committee aide said today, pointing out Congress and the administration closed the books on FY97 domestic spending through intense negotiations in the last session.

The administration has requested $4.8 billion in supplemental spending, with $2 billion for the mission in Bosnia and $2.8 billion in domestic spending, with the additional funding coming from unspecified defense cuts. The aide said the administration has not sent Congress a list of offsets for the additional spending.

House Appropriations Chairman Livingston will work with the administration to identify cuts necessary to pay for the Bosnia mission, the aide said, adding that finding defense cuts to boost domestic spending is "problematic." The aide added, "They have not presented us with any rationale for doing this."

The aide said the administration wants to bring domestic spending up to levels it had requested, contending that "obviously, they made some promises" to do that. The administration's FY98 budget includes the supplemental requests -- ranging from funds for the Women, Infants and Children program to payments owed to the United Nations.

Republicans are particularly disturbed the administration wants additional defense cuts to pay for domestic programs. "The cruelest thing we could do to this president is to give him his own defense budget because he knows he can't live with it and he has proven that point over the past two years," the aide said, adding the administration has had to request supplemental spending for defense programs.

House appropriators are likely to begin work on the Bosnia supplemental next month. The aide said another problem is the administration is likely to make an additional supplemental spending request for Western flood recovery -- for which Congress will have to find offsets. Administration officials were not available for comment today.

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