Congress seeks to wrap up business by Nov. 11

Congress seeks to wrap up business by Nov. 11

In addition to completing negotiations on the remaining appropriations bills, House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., Tuesday said a handful of key legislative priorities are still alive for the year-despite an adjournment date next week that he expects to meet.

"The president's leaving town, 22 senators are leaving town. My guess is we'll get out of here Nov. 10," Hastert said in an interview with National Journal Group publications, including CongressDaily. Separately, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said he "expects" to finish the session by Veterans Day-next Thursday, Nov. 11.

The Senate passed the final fiscal 2000 appropriations bill Wednesday as the Republican leadership struggled to secure the votes to adopt the District of Columbia/Labor-HHS conference report and its 1 percent across-the-board spending cut. The package was narrowly passed on a 49-48 vote only after GOP leaders prevailed upon Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who initially voted against adoption, to change his vote.

President Clinton has vowed to veto the Labor-HHS bill and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said, "The White House is going to come into these negotiations very strong," particularly in its opposition to the across-the-board cut, which Harkin called a "poison pill."

Although administration negotiators continue to push Republicans on a wide range of budget issues, the White House views several initiatives as having top-tier status. Based on discussions with White House officials and public statements by President Clinton, these include: funding to hire 50,000 police officers; the latest installment on hiring 100,000 new teachers; payment of U.S. debts to the United Nations; the president's "Lands Legacy" program to protect wilderness areas; and deleting from the fiscal 2000 Interior spending bill riders the White House views as anti-environmental.