Clinton's Jobs Program Faces Trouble in Senate

WHILE President Clinton's budget sailed through the Senate last week, his proposed $16 billion jobs program is running into some turbulence.

On March 29, the Senate voted 48 to 44 to give preliminary approval to a Republican amendment paring $104 million from the legislation. Red-faced Democrats scheduled a second vote on the GOP provision yesterday. Five Democrats favored the Republican amendment, but leaders hoped they would win with the support of most of the seven Democrats who missed the mid-evening vote.

The Republicans' chief compliant against the jobs program is that it is pork-barreling disguised as "investments." To make that point, Sen. Hank Brown (R) of Colorado proposed his successful amendment prohibiting spending on 54 projects from a list compiled by the country's mayors. They ranged from a golf course in Daytona Beach, Fla., to a theater renovation in Phoenix.

But while Senator Brown's amendment represented a temporary setback for the jobs program, the bulk of the Clinton package is ultimately expected to pass.

That became clearer after some conservative Democrats abandoned their efforts to force a delay in spending some of the money in the bill.

Sens. David Boren (D) of Oklahoma, John Breaux (D) of Louisiana, and Richard Bryan (D) of Nevada said they would support the measure after Mr. Clinton sent them a letter pledging to pressure Congress to meet its deficit-reduction goals. Base closings redux

The saga of the base closings just keeps going and going and going.....

After hard lobbying by California lawmakers, Defense Secretary Les Aspin had agreed to remove two northern California bases - McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento and the Army language school at the Presidio of Monterey - from the Pentagon's proposed list of closings. But on March 29 the eight-member Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission put the two bases right back on the list.

None of the decisions are final, but the move to close the two California bases has the Golden State's lawmakers up in arms.

Gov. Pete Wilson (R) of California said his state had "taken a disproportionate hit" from base closings and that new cutbacks would cause "serious injury" to his constituents. What's in a name?

Even in a tightly knit new administration, the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is doing. This became apparent during a recent attempt by the Monitor to ascertain the exact title of the health-care policy group headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, reports staff writer Ross Atkin.

A call to the White House press office did not produce a ready answer. Several hours later, the White House referred the question to Mrs. Clinton's personal office, which said the official title is the Task Force on Health Care, plain and simple. Three days later, however, the White House press office called back with its version of the group's title: The President's Task Force on Health Care Reform. This, reportedly, was the wording used in the original announcement made Jan. 25.

Perhaps we should just refer to the group as the "Hillary-ites." Did you hear the one about....

It's one of the silliest, yet most-enduring rituals in Washington: Every year giants of journalism and government gather together at the Gridiron Club dinner to poke fun at each other.

At the March 27 dinner, Senate minority leader Bob Dole (R) of Kansas stole the show with the evening's most-repeated line: The Republican leader glanced down at Vice President Al Gore Jr. and noted that the vice president had been assigned to work on environment at the White House. "Al, I think the lawn looks great," Mr. Dole declared.

Later, Dole tossed in another pointed barb when he noted that Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin will be discussing the importance of maintaining a free-market system at their upcoming summit.

"I hope Boris can talk him into it," Dole deadpanned.

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