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House Kills Its Own Pay Raise in Spending Bill

December 03, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House today voted to bring a mammoth, $587-billion spending bill into compliance with the White House-congressional deficit reduction agreement and to strip from the bill a pay raise for members of Congress.

The bill was amended by the 236-177 preliminary vote with support from only seven Republicans. GOP leaders said they wanted the whole package to be reworked, but they failed in their effort to send it back to committee and the House proceeded with its debate today.

House Speaker Jim Wright appealed for Republican votes on the bill that pays for government programs from agriculture to weapons.

"It will be a close vote," Wright, a Texas Democrat, told reporters. "The key to the outcome will be whether House Republicans will honor the commitment made by their party leaders and support the deficit-reduction agreement."

Although the spending bill itself was not yet reworked to reflect the results of the budget summit pact between President Reagan and the Congress, the initial vote added language forcing it to be brought into compliance before a final version is sent to the President.

Today's initial vote also stripped from the legislation a proposed 3% pay increase for members of Congress, federal judges and top government executives. Other federal workers would still get the raise, although it was expected to be reduced later to 2%.

Lawmakers now earn $89,500 annually and have already received two pay increases this year.

Would Meet Some Goals

The bill, once trimmed, would satisfy part of the deficit-reduction goals for fiscal 1988. A separate tax measure aimed at completing the agreement to reduce government red ink is currently in the Senate.

The House bill is an amalgamation of the 13 domestic and military appropriations bills for the 1988 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Congress is supposed to pass all 13 appropriations bills before each fiscal year begins. None of the 1988 measures has cleared Congress so far.

Aside from the spending issues, today's debate was touching on extraneous issues loaded onto the bill including air pollution, unrest in Haiti and broadcast fairness rules. The controversial amendments include:

--Extension of the Clean Air Act's Dec. 31 deadline for cities to reduce ozone and carbon monoxide pollution. Some lawmakers want the deadline postponed until next summer, but others want it pushed back through 1989.

--Enactment into law of the Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters to cover important public issues and air opposing viewpoints. The Federal Communications Commission stopped enforcing the 40-year-old regulation last August.

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