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House passes third welfare bill

Votes of area members of Congress on key issues last week.

The House passed a Republican welfare bill that would give states broad authority over their programs and impose new work requirements on welfare recipients. The vote Thursday was 256-170, with 30 Democrats joining 226 of 235 Republicans.

President Clinton has twice vetoed Republican efforts to revamp the nation's welfare system. House Republicans dared him to veto their newest attempt to substantially change the system.

"We invite the president to join us in our effort to rescue thousands of people" from a failed welfare system, said E. Clay Shaw Jr., R-Fort Lauderdale.

The bill maintains the core Republican prescription for welfare reform: new work requirements and time limits on benefits; elimination of welfare's status as a federal entitlement, and block grants to the states with fewer restrictions on how federal money could be spent. Republicans say it would save $61-billion over the next six years.

Voting to overhaul welfare program: Bilirakis (R), Canady (R), Fowler (R), Goss (R), McCollum (R), Mica (R), Miller (R), Scarborough (R), Stearns (R), Weldon (R).

Voting against: Brown (D), Gibbons (D), Johnston (D), Meek (D), Peterson (D), Thurman (D), Ros-Lehtinen (R).

Not voting: Young (R).

LAWMAKERS' PAY: Members of the House voted overwhelmingly to deny themselves a cost-of-living salary increase. The vote Tuesday was 352-67. Of 19 Republicans and 48 Democrats who voted for the pay increase, most are retiring this year.

Under a 1989 law, members of Congress, the vice president, cabinet officers and senior federal workers are automatically given a cost-of-living increase that is tied to the government's inflation estimates. For the coming fiscal year, the increase would be about 2.3 percent, raising the average Congressional salary to nearly $137,000.

The Republican leadership tried to persuade members not to offer an amendment blocking the automatic increase, but their freshmen troops would not yield.

Appropriations Chairman Robert L. Livingston, R-La., denounced the move, saying that members deserved their salaries because "we are doing our jobs" by cutting the budget deficit.

"It's not about pay. It's not about the salary. It's about leadership," countered Sam Brownback, R-Kan. "People are going to focus much more on what our deeds say versus our words," he said.

Voting to freeze the salaries of members of Congress: Brown (D), Meek (D), Peterson (D), Thurman (D), Bilirakis (R), Canady (R), Fowler (R), Goss (R), McCollum (R), Mica (R), Miller (R), Ros-Lehtinen (R), Scarborough (R), Stearns (R), Weldon (R).

Voting against: Gibbons (D), Johnston (D).

Not voting: Young (R).

NUCLEAR WASTE: A measure to establish a temporary nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada cleared a key procedural hurdle on Tuesday when the Senate voted 65-34 to limit debate on the bill.

But opponents of the facility still heralded the vote as a victory because the margin may not be large enough to override the president's promised veto.

Proponents argued that the Nevada site, located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, would make an ideal temporary storage facility because of its dry, rocky and uninhabited landscape. Without a national storage depot, mountains of nuclear waste will continue to accumulate at 110 sites nationwide.

But Nevada's two Democratic senators, Harry Reid and Richard H. Bryan, launched a filibuster against the bill, claiming that it unfairly singled out Nevada and that the site would become permanent.

After voting to end debate on the bill, the Senate agreed to postpone final action until Thursday.

Voting to end debate: Mack (R).

Voting against: Graham (D).