Moderates Slam GOP Cuts

Moderates Slam GOP Cuts

Now that House Republican appropriators have satisfied conservatives by offsetting disaster relief and supplemental defense spending, they may face problems from their moderate members, at least one of whom Tuesday referred to the cuts as "a joke."

The House Appropriations Committee approved the supplemental spending bill on a 29-21 party line vote Tuesday, with Democrats objecting to the Republican decision to offset the emergency spending with cuts to other programs.

The bill calls for cutting $250 million from the Clinton administration's national service program, as well as a $1.92 billion cut from housing programs, a $1.42 billion limit on obligations in airport grants and smaller amounts in bilingual education, and specific cuts in airport grants.

"I'll be voting no," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., when he examined the list. "It's hard for me to take these seriously."

He added, "It's basically stick-it-to-the-Democrats." Shays said the national service program helps empower young people and predicted the housing money would be restored.

Other moderates said they wanted to take a closer look at the offsets. Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., said he disagreed with the decision to exempt defense spending from any cuts.

Rep. Jim Greenwood, R-Pa., added, "If I ruled the world, I probably would have knocked out the B-2 bomber."

House Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., said he is not sure how moderates will react. "We provided offsets," Livingston said. "Now it's up to leadership to help us carry the ball."

But House Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., charged that part of the emergency defense money was necessary to replenish intelligence accounts, which were drained to help pay for defense projects in the home states of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

Obey questioned the need for offsets and warned that an additional $1.6 billion may be needed for disaster relief.

"I don't believe there should be offsets in this bill because they are true emergencies," Obey said. He said the housing cuts could affect 700,000 people and that the airport cuts make no sense at a time when Republicans are boosting highway spending. He said the national service amendment simply kills a Clinton initiative. "This is a stick-it-in-your-eye amendment," he said.

Livingston called the offset list "the beginning of a lengthy process," adding, "This is a fluid and dynamic process."

And Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., said President Clinton is "forcing us to make these incredibly difficult decisions" by deploying so many forces abroad. The Appropriations Committee approved the plan to add the offsets to the bill on a 33-26 party line vote.

The panel defeated a Democratic plan to merge the disaster relief-defense bill with funding for the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

The committee, however, approved an amendment that would prohibit use of funds for an offensive mission in Iraq unless Congress approves it.

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