Congress Eyes Sept. 27 Adjournment

September 4, 1996

Congress Eyes Sept. 27 Adjournment

Trying to wrap up the 104th Congress as soon as possible, Republican leaders plan to set Sept. 27 as the target adjournment date, a week earlier than the previously planned goal of Oct. 4. But there is more momentum for moving up the date in the House, where leaders fear the Senate's often glacial pace will prevent an early exit. House and Senate Republican leadership aides Tuesday stopped short of confirming the target has been changed, saying more will be known after a series of GOP leadership meetings planned for today. However, they did say the idea is under "active consideration" and now is considered a goal.

"Officially it's the 4th [of October]. If things fall into the right order and we don't get bogged down, we'd like to get out of here [sooner]," said Mike Franc, communications director for House Majority Leader Armey. Franc said there is no reason to stay into October on issues that are not central to the Republican agenda, saying, "There's no point in sticking around until the middle of October unless it's major, major league stuff." Not surprisingly, both Republicans and Democrats appear eager to adjourn as soon as possible to allow them to campaign.

While top House Republicans are trying to push up the target adjournment date, several aides expressed fear it is not possible for the Senate to move that quickly. "If the Senate does their job, we'll get out of here by Sept. 27," one House Republican leadership aide said. Several Senate aides agreed it will be difficult to finish the packed agenda before the end of September, adding it is not certain the Senate will change its target. Nonetheless, the Senate aides said setting the target earlier will force both chambers to work harder to meet the goal.

To finish by late September, both chambers will have to complete the 12 remaining FY97 appropriations bills not yet signed by President Clinton.

With FY97 slated to start Oct. 1, those are considered the only current "must-do" measures. But since Republicans expect Clinton to veto as many as five of the regular appropriations bills, they also will need to pass some form of a stop-gap measure. Some bills may be bundled into a omnibus package, or a broad continuing resolution could be passed.

The other key legislation could be a tax cut package, if Republicans decide to try to bring one up.

While top Republicans would like to keep any tax package small, including just the $500 per-child tax credit and a few other provisions, such measures usually are targets of election- year additions. Particularly in the Senate, any package could become bogged down by political amendments, aides said. While GOP leaders are interested in passing a number of other bills, none are certain to be approved at this point.

Interest in the anti-terrorism bill is increasing again in the wake of the confrontation in Iraq, and may be back on track, one Senate aide said. Also, legislation sponsored by Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., providing more benefits for newborn children and their mothers appears to have significant bipartisan support.

Other bills that may pass include the FY97 Defense authorization measure, missile defense legislation, the immigration reform bill, the Defense of Marriage Act, an anti- stalking measure backed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and FDA reform legislation.

Republicans also will try to override Clinton's veto of the partial birth abortion ban.

Franc said even if just the spending bills are passed, Republicans will have significant accomplishments to show for the last two years. "That's one hell of a record," he said, referring to both the appropriations bills and the group of measures passed just before the August recess.

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