House to allow votes on four budget plans

House to allow votes on four budget plans

The House Rules panel was expected Wednesday afternoon to make only three alternative budget resolutions in order for this week's budget floor debate: the Democratic alternative by Budget ranking member John Spratt, D-S.C.; the Blue Dog Coalition budget by conservative Democrats, and President Clinton's budget request.

Conspicuous by its absence is the amendment submitted by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bud Shuster, R-Pa., to lock up $50 billion in unspent airline ticket revenues and future revenues until the House considers FAA reauthorization legislation-an amendment that the leadership opposed because it would bust the budget resolution drafted by Budget Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, and could draw enough GOP support to defeat the Kasich budget.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said his staff and Shuster aides were talking and said he thought they will be able to work out a compromise. Shuster would not discuss the specifics, but told reporters just prior to the Rules Committee meeting, "I expect I will be happy before the day is out."

Shuster Tuesday said he would vote against the rule if his amendment is excluded. Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member James Oberstar, D-Minn., said the pending agreement would allow the committee to bring its FAA bill to the floor "in the shape we want to do it," but declined to elaborate.

Spratt's budget includes net tax cuts of $116 billion over 10 years, as well as spending on Democratic priority programs, contingent on passing a bill addressing the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Until then, it would uphold the discretionary spending caps and the pay-go rules, which prohibit using on-budget surpluses for tax cuts or new spending.

It also would wall off the entire Social Security trust fund, require the Treasury to apply any surplus to reducing the public debt, and transfer that amount of debt reduction to the Medicare and Social Security trust funds.

The Blue Dog budget would reserve all of the Social Security surplus for Social Security, and allocate half of the on-budget surplus projected for the next five years to debt reduction, a quarter to tax cuts and a quarter to spending on priorities such as defense, agriculture and veterans' programs.

The floor rule also will include self-executing sense of the Congress language by Kasich regarding Social Security and child nutrition.

Specifically, Kasich's amendment calls for government budget documents to exclude the Social Security trust fund, and for Congress to enact legislation to safeguard the Social Security surplus that either mirrors language in the budget resolution creating a $97 billion on-budget surplus reserve fund for retirement security and Medicare, "or otherwise establishing a statutory limit on debt held by the public and reducing such limit by the amounts of the Social Security surpluses."

Budget and Ways and Means member Wally Herger, R-Calif., and Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Clay Shaw, R-Fla., said today they will introduce such legislation. Kasich's amendment also calls on the Education and the Workforce and Agriculture committees to review federal nutrition programs for ways to improve nutrition services to low- income children.