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Republicans' Filibuster May Deal Clinton a Setback on Jobs Plan

By William J. Eaton
Los Angeles Times


Failing for the third time to break a Republican filibuster, Senate Democrats appeared ready Monday to give up temporarily on efforts to get President Clinton's $16.3 billion economic stimulus plan through the Senate, informed sources said.

Instead, the Senate plans to approve a $225 billion increase in the debt limit and then start a delayed Easter-Passover recess after abandoning efforts to fashion a compromise that both sides could accept, the sources said.

The anticipated outcome would mark the first big legislative setback for Clinton, while the two-week impasse created by solid resistance of the Senate's 43 Republicans indicated that GOP lawmakers may have greater influence on future Clinton proposals.

Some Democrats said they hoped there would be a voter backlash against Republicans for promoting gridlock on a bill designed to create jobs in an economy where recovery is far from robust.

But Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., said that voters are telling him and his colleagues to hold firm against the short-term spending package that the president has called an emergency stimulus plan.

The Republicans contend the stimulus plan includes so-called pork barrel spending and increases the budget deficit. They are holding out for a much smaller package that would include only the $4 billion already approved for unemployment benefits, and some sort of immunization and summer jobs programs that could be financed without adding to the deficit.

While denouncing the continued GOP opposition as "just a political power play," the president indicated for the first time Monday afternoon that he did not anticipate victory in the two-week-old struggle.

"They (Republicans) may hit us a little on this," Clinton told reporters on his way back to Washington after throwing the first pitch at an opening day baseball game in Baltimore. "We're working hard on trying to get it worked out."

Earlier the president had termed the stalemate "sad," adding: "In a time when no new jobs are being created ... it means that for political purposes, they are willing to deny jobs to places like Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Cleveland and Seattle."

His comments came after the Senate voted 49-29 to shut off debate on the bill, falling 11 votes short of the number required to stop the GOP-led delaying tactics and force a decision on the legislation.