House chair: We'll make the funding deadline

Notwithstanding threats made by various involved parties, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., today said he remains confident funding negotiators can cut the deals needed to resolve the remaining contentious issues this week.

"I think we can work it out," Livingston said, following a bicameral meeting with Republican and appropriations leaders, as they continued to slog through the tough remaining issues.

The Senate is expected to consider the Agriculture conference report today. Both houses could consider the VA-HUD conference report if a last-minute request by the Clinton administration for $180 million is resolved. Transportation conferees continue to meet today. In addition, Livingston said conferees are likely to drop a provision of the Treasury-Postal funding measure that would require a majority vote of confidence for the FEC's general counsel and director. That provision-opposed by most House Democrats-resulted in the defeat of the rule on the floor last week.

Livingston said funding for the International Monetary Fund is likely to be one of the last issues decided, although Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said he believes the full $18 billion he wants will be approved once negotiators agree on IMF reforms.

A Republican source said census sampling, the IMF and other difficult issues have been bumped up to the leadership level. In addition, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said he expects GOP leaders to meet Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

House GOP conservatives who have been pushing to have supplemental funding offset by cuts have developed a three-step proposal for resolving the issue. The proposal calls for first deciding whether any supplemental spending consists of true emergencies. Then, they have identified some $3 billion in possible offsets-including ending certain rebates to FHA borrowers after mortgage repayment, accepting the administration's Medicaid administrative reforms and increasing the Ginnie Mae mortgage insurance fee. The last step calls for paying for non-emergency supplemental spending through an across- the-board cut in non-defense discretionary spending on March 1 if Clinton has not identified other offsets.

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