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House Committee Passes Heart of Clinton's Budget

By Eric Pianin
The Washington Post

The House Budget Committee Thursday approved the heart of President Clinton's 1995 budget plan after rejecting a Republican alternative that included a $500-per-child tax credit for middle- and upper-income families.

While voting 26 to 17 along party lines to adopt a $1.5 trillion budget resolution for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, the Democratic-controlled committee trimmed $3.1 billion from Clinton's request to keep overall spending below a congressionally mandated ceiling.

The committee subtracted from and added to about 40 areas of the president's budget in reshaping the plan and achieving the overall spending reductions.

Some substantial changes included a $225 million reduction in defense spending, a $115 million cut in foreign aid, $550 million of cuts and delays in federal building construction and $796 billion in savings from a proposed federal employee buyout plan.

At the same time, the committee voted to restore $494 billion in spending for low-income home energy assistance, $100 million for mass transit capital and operating grants, $80 million for emergency food assistance and $63 million of spending authority for Rural Electrification Administration loan guarantees.

House Budget Committee Chairman Martin O. Sabo, D-Minn., noted that the resolution calls for a substantial increase in spending for criminal justice programs, education and transportation, including full funding of the highway construction program.

Discretionary spending, the one-third of the budget that Congress has direct control over, would total $541.8 billion for the coming year, a slight decline from this year's total.

The remainder of the budget goes for mandatory programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and for interest on the federal debt.

The deficit for the coming year would total $175.3 billion, the lowest since 1985.

The committee approved the budget resolution after voting 25 to 17, along strict party lines, to reject the GOP alternative by Rep. John R. Kasich (Ohio), ranking committee Republican.

The detailed Republican proposal included funds to begin implementing the GOP version of health care, welfare reform and crime control, as well as a proposal for a tax credit for families earning up to $200,000 a year.

Republicans suggested a range of savings over the next five years, including $48 billion of cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, $58 billion of defense cuts, $18.3 billion of savings through welfare reform and $66.7 billion through reduction in overhead and personnel.

Kasich dismissed the president's budget as a "status quo" document, and criticized Democratsfor excluding Clinton's health care plan from their budget calculations for the coming year.

"If Bill Clinton had put the budget on automatic pilot we would be doing better than we're doing today," Kasich said.

Democrats defeated an effort by Republicans to amend the budget resolution to include the president's health care plan, which most observers assume will undergo dramatic changes in Congress.