- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Congress yesterday continued its spending spree, taking final action on the fiscal 2001 budgets for veterans, housing and urban development programs and for energy and water projects.
The bills are "dramatically over the budget," said Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, explaining his vote against them. "It represents the spending mania that has gripped Congress."
The combined bills passed the House 386-24 and the Senate 85-8. The president is expected to sign the measures, which would make them the fourth and fifth spending bills for fiscal 2001 which began Oct. 1 to be enacted.
The $107 billion veterans and housing bill exceeds the original House-passed budget by $4 billion, and contains nearly 1,000 projects earmarked for specific members. The $21.6 billion energy and water bill surpasses the House bill by $1.9 billion and includes more than 200 projects not requested by, or with greater funding than requested by, the administration.
For example, the administration requested $50,000 to investigate the idea of a water project at Devils Lake, Nev. But Congress instead appropriated $4 million to go ahead and plan the project.
Included in the more than 700 projects earmarked under the heading of "Community Development" in the veterans and urban development bill are $5 million for the Institute for Software Research, $700,000 for Santa Fe, N.M., to construct a permanent site for a farmer's market, $500,000 for Marlboro College to create a "technology incubator" in downtown Brattleboro, Vt., $2.5 million for a pilot-training facility at the University of Alaska, and $645,000 for New York's Carnegie Hall.
Local lawmakers also brought home the pork, wrangling $1 million for "facilities needs" at St. Colletta School in Alexandria (Va.), $250,000 for a computer center in Takoma Park (Md.), $250,000 for the Wheaton (Md.) Small Business Technology Center, $250,000 for the Prince George's County (Md.) Technology Commercialization Center, $200,000 for a "debris diverter" on Tripps Run in Falls Church (Va.), and $430,000 for the Bethesda (Md.) Academy of Performing Arts.
Lawmakers were less generous to the District of Columbia, allocating just $100,000 to the Covenant House to construct a community service center. Another $400,000 goes to the D.C.-based National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and is intended to help provide technical assistance to other local organizations.
In other developments, the House and Senate approved legislation to keep the government's doors open through Wednesday.
This fourth "continuing resolution" passed without objection in the Senate, but lost 135 Democrats and one independent in the 262-136 House vote.
Democrats, and some Republicans, have become increasingly frustrated at GOP leaders' "lackadaisical" pace in resolving final differences on the budget.
"Let's stop neglecting our work, stop passing these stopgap spending measures and … finish our spending bills, fund the priorities of our people and get away from the special interests," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat.
At a Capitol Hill rally yesterday, Mr. Clinton assured Democrats that after Wednesday, he will approve only one-day continuing resolutions to force Congress to stay in town.

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