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Congress weekly

Published Mar. 28, 1993|Updated Oct. 9, 2005

Here's a summary of key issues before Congress last week and how area members voted:

Senate backs budget plan

The Senate adopted, 54-45, a $1.5-trillion spending plan for fiscal 1994 on Thursday, capping an extensive floor debate that lasted several days.

As passed, the measure aims to help Congress reduce the deficit by $502-billion over five years. It includes a variety of tax increases and spending cuts, particularly for the military.

"This is the most substantial deficit-reduction plan ever proposed by a president or ever adopted," Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, said in a news conference. "Every penny of taxes raised will go to deficit reduction."

Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said the budget resolution will amount to the largest tax hike in history. All Republican and two Democratic senators opposed the plan.

Senators are meeting with Representatives to resolve differences between the measures they passed and solidify the final congressional budget plan.

Voting to pass the budget plan: Graham (D)

Voting against: Mack (R)

Entitlement cap amendment killed

Yielding to the will of the White House, the Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected, 51-47, an amendment to the budget plan that would have curbed the growth of domestic spending for entitlement programs.

The amendment, offered by Sam Nunn, D-Ga., would have put a permanent, enforceable cap on entitlement spending other than Social Security beginning in fiscal 1996. The cap would have affected Medicaid and Medicare.

Opponents of the Nunn amendment argued that the caps would preclude administration efforts to create a comprehensive health care plan.

"A vote for that amendment would be a vote against controlling health-care costs for families and businesses," said Harris Wofford, D-Pa., who won much support in his 1991 special-election bid for the Senate for advocating health-care reform. "It is a vote against expanding access to health care for millions of Americans who are today without coverage."

Nunn lauded President Clinton for acknowledging the size of the deficit and for proposing a realistic solution. He discounted the damage Clinton would have suffered if the senator's entitlement cap had been adopted.

"Every time we have an amendment out here, it's treated as if it's going to bring down the White House if they do not favor it," Nunn said. "It is time for Democrats and Republicans to get beyond this rather simplistic treatment of the problems facing our country."

Voting to kill entitlement cap amendment: Graham (D)

Voting to sustain: Mack (R)

Notification amendment rejected

On Thursday, the House rejected, 179-243, an amendment that would require minors to notify at least one parent before having an abortion performed in a federally funded family planning clinic.

Under the amendment, a minor would have to notify a parent at least 48 hours before an abortion was performed unless such notification would result in physical abuse for the patient or a doctor decided a medical emergency existed.

Proponents of the amendment compared it to a situation one month ago where Chelsea Clinton needed parental permission to receive aspirin at school, and said the same rules should apply to abortion.

"Here we have an invasive procedure on a minor and you want to say no notification. It doesn't seem to make sense," said amendment sponsor Thomas J. Bliley, R-Va.

Opponents, however, said the amendment would replace state laws on parental notification and would only affect low-income minors who use the clinics. "It becomes an issue of the haves and the have-nots, and the have-nots, as usual, lose," said Nydia M. Velazquez, D-N.Y.

The amendment was attached to a bill reauthorizing federal grants for family planning clinics that passed after the amendment was rejected.

Voting to require parental notification: Hutto (D), Bilirakis (R), Canady (R), Goss (R), Lewis (R), McCollum (R), Mica (R), Ros-Lehtinen (R), Stearns (R), Young (R).

Voting against: Bacchus (D), Brown (D), Gibbons (D), Johnston (D), Meek (D), Peterson (D), Thurman (D), Fowler (R), Miller (R).

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