Friday, 4 Aug 95 Washington, DC
1. OCTOBER TRAIN WRECK: GOVERNMENT MAY BE SHUT DOWN ON OCTOBER 1.
The White House is drawing up plans for a shutdown at the start of the fiscal year. President Clinton has already threatened to veto six appropriations bills passed by the House, and both sides are blowing their whistles with throttles wide open. It's normal.
Because shutting down the government is such a major disruption,
Congress tries to pressure the President into signing by waiting until the last minute to complete action on spending bills. The
President vows to veto the bills anyway if Congress doesn't make certain concessions. Things are worse this year because of the need for a major budget reconciliation bill to clean up after all the messy changes. House Republicans are thinking of delaying reconciliation until the last minute to force a showdown, but in private they are reading the polls to see which side will pay the steepest political price. Can disaster be averted? The Senate will soften the House bills, and a line-item veto might allow the
President to back down on his threat to veto entire bills.
2. LINE-ITEM VETO: SENATE PRODS HOUSE TO LIVE UP TO ITS CONTRACT.
In a rare rebuke of the other chamber, the Senate, by a whopping 83-14, adopted a "sense of the Senate" amendment on Tuesday that calls on the Speaker of the House to appoint conferees to resolve differences over the Line-Item Veto Act. The line-item veto was promised in the "Contract with America," and the House passed its version on February 6, 1995. On March 23, the Senate passed its own version. The Senate subsequently called for a conference to resolve differences between the two bills, and appointed 18 of its members to serve on a conference committee. But months have passed and the House shows no inclination to hand the President an axe before he signs the appropriations bills (WN 21 Jul 95). The House recesses today for what it likes to call the "District
Work Period." They won't be seen again until after Labor Day.
3. ACADEMIC PORK: TWO SENATORS HAVEN'T LOST THEIR TASTE FOR PORK.
Among the 14 voting against the line-item veto amendment, were two earmark artists. The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, to which the amendment was attached, includes Bennett Johnston's
(D-LA) earmark of $7M for the Biomedical Research Foundation of
Northwest Louisiana, and Mark Hatfield's (R-OR) earmark of $8.5M for tiny Oregon Health Sciences University. That puts OHSU over the $100M mark in 12 years -- about $36,000 for every graduate.
4. ALTERNATIVE WASTE: SEAWOLFS, MISSILE DEFENSE & SHARK CARTILAGE
The Senate last night agreed to send a third Sea Wolf Submarine out to roam the oceans uncontested and to jeopardize the only proven system of destroying enemy missiles (the START treaties) by building a ground-based missile defense system. The House was also busy, passing the Moran Amendment to earmark an additional
$1.9M from the NIH budget for the Office of Alternative Medicine.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)