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House Committee Approves $4.8 Billion Anti-Crime Bill

By William J. Eaton
Los Angeles Times


The House Judiciary Committee approved a scaled-down $4.8 billion anti-crime package Thursday designed to put 50,000 more police on the streets and increase federal aid to help states and cities confront violence by young people.

Five of six bills in the package won quick approval in 34-1 tallies, while another passed by voice vote despite Republicans' protestations that it avoided the tough issues of mandatory sentencing and construction of more prisons.

The six-bill package is scheduled for consideration by the full House early next week and Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Texas, the committee chairman, said he anticipated that the measures would pass easily under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority.

At the heart of the package is a down payment on President Clinton's plan to put 1 million additional police officers on the streets. The measure authorizes $3.4 billion in grants to help cities bolster their forces over the next six years, although there was no indication how the initiative would be paid for.

Other provisions would authorize federal grants for the development of "boot camps" and other alternative means of punishment, alcohol and drug treatment for federal and state prisoners, aid to schools afflicted by violence, and aid for local programs designed to curb youth gangs and juvenile drug use.

The lone Republican dissenter, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, termed the package "a hollow promise" and added: "There's not a dime of funding."

Meanwhile, a House Judiciary subcommittee was expected Fridayto approve the controversial "Brady Bill," which requires a five-day waiting period for buyers of hand guns so police can make background checks for criminal records or mental illness.

Although it faces strong opposition from the National Rifle Association, the bill was expected to be approved by the House this month and sent to the Senate where it also was expected to be considered alone rather than as part of a more comprehensive crime bill.

Brooks decided to dismantle the Clinton administration's omnibus crime bill and replace it with smaller pieces of legislation because strong opposition to some elements of the larger bill could have doomed the entire effort.