- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Congressional leaders and the White House, faced with the prospect of budget negotiations while resolving one of the nation's more tumultuous elections, agreed yesterday to postpone for three weeks final deliberations on six of 13 fiscal 2001 spending bills.

"The president has made phone calls throughout the day … to reach out to the Republicans because we were ready to get down to work. But it is also clear, due to the preoccupation that exists over the election, that digging in [to finish negotiations] is not likely to happen," said Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Linda Ricci. "So in the light of that, we agreed to the date of December 5."

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said Republicans agreed to the extension because "the president is not here, members have schedules to keep, and [we do not] know who is the president-elect."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said he still wanted to work on the budget, but conceded this "probably isn't going to be the most productive time."

Although fiscal 2000 ended Sept. 30, congressional efforts to enact spending bills for 2001 dragged on through October. Just days before the Nov. 7 election, with six of 13 annual spending bills not signed into law, Congress took a one-week break.

At the time, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, predicted those bills could be finished quickly. But the turmoil surrounding the presidential elections has changed all that.

Spending bills still to be enacted include the District of Columbia budget and funding for Congress itself, as well as budgets for the Departments of Treasury, Labor, Commerce and Justice.

Those bills have been held up partly by the White House push for an increase in spending for education and an easing of immigration laws for illegal aliens from certain Latin American nations.

Republicans had hoped to block regulations imposing new workplace standards relating to repetitive stress injuries and other ergonomic issues, but the final version of those regulations were issued yesterday.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Bill Goodling, Pennsylvania Republican, said he was not surprised by the decision by Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue the new standards.

"OSHA … follows a pattern of overstepping authority and issuing controversial new policies, which have no sound scientific basis and which are not supported by public opinion," Mr. Goodling said.

To avoid a trade war with the European Union, the House today will pass legislation repealing the so-called foreign sales corporation tax system. The bill would replace it with a plan that broadens tax benefits for multinational companies that sell abroad.

The Senate approved the bill Nov. 1, and President Clinton has said he will sign it.

The World Trade Organization last year ruled that the U.S. foreign sales corporations were illegal export subsidies and set Nov. 1 as the deadline for Congress to pass legislation to revise U.S. laws.

The new law will buy the United States time to find a more permanent solution.

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