FILE ID:97050902.txt

(Senate votes "no-shutdown," Gingrich/2001 agenda, Moynihan/secrecy
overload, Grassley vs. Pentagon bookkeeping, D'Amato calls Swiss guard
a "noble hero," Lott on CFE, balanced budget questions) (1960)


The U.S. Senate voted 55-45 late May 8 to keep in an $8.4 billion
disaster emergency-aid bill, triggered by floods in the Dakotas, a
Republican amendment to put the U.S. government on temporary
auto-pilot in times of fiscal stalemate. This is known as the
"no-shutdown" provision.

Observers of the Washington scene say the government shutdowns in the
winter of 1995-96 were a watershed political trauma for Republicans
and that now it's payback time. In late 1995 and early 1996, parts of
the federal government were shut down twice -- for a total of 27 days
-- after President Clinton vetoed spending bills containing various
provisions he opposed.

National parks closed, access to national forests was restricted, FHA
mortgages and housing vouchers were halted, applications for passports
were not processed and veterans benefits were delayed.

Of all the bold moves Republicans made after seizing control of both
chambers of Congress in 1994, the shutdown was "the one people found
the hardest to understand," Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said
May 9. "We've learned the lesson now," he added.

Capitol Hill observers say the Republican efforts to force the
President to accept legislation to prevent future shutdowns is
generating the same kind of partisan standoff that led to the earlier
cutoff of federal funds in the winter of 1995-96. The President, as he
did before, is vowing to stand fast and use his veto powers if

Frank Raines, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said
the Continuing Resolution's dollar levels would be below those agreed
on May 2 in the balanced budget talks for education, environment,
research and crime prevention. "If the bill were presented to the
President containing the automatic continuing resolution now pending
in the Senate," he said, "the President would veto the bill."

This time, emergency disaster aid for flood victims in South Dakota,
rather than funding for the full federal government, is at risk.

Gingrich predicted May 9 that the House would follow the Senate's lead
in approving the "no-shutdown" provision. "I'm very surprised that the
President wants to reserve to himself the right to close the
government. Given the lessons of the recent past, we should agree
mutually that we're not going to close the government. We're trying to

The House of Representatives will take up the flood disaster-relief
bill the week of May 12.

The "no-shutdown" provision has nothing to do with flood disaster aid.
But Republicans hoped attaching it as a rider would protect it from a

"It will be vetoed" if the anti-shutdown provision remains, Senate
Minority Leader Tom Daschle, whose home state of South Dakota would
benefit from the emergency aid, told the Senate the evening of May 8.

Under the measure, federal programs and departments would continue to
operate at present levels if the next fiscal year opens on October 1,
1997 without passage of the spending bills necessary to run the
federal government.

"It's a Trojan horse," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy
(Democrat-Massachusetts), "a government shutdown on the installment
plan." And Senator Robert Byrd (Democrat-West Virginia), a former
Senate Majority Leader, said, "When the going gets tough ... Congress
is likely to just yield to this mindless, automatic mechanism."

However, there was little disagreement over the central portions of
the supplemental funding bill, including $5.5 billion for various
disasters and $1.8 billion for peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and the
Middle East. The Senate then passed the overall supplemental on a
78-to-22 vote. Once the House of Representatives votes on its own
version next week, the two versions must then be reconciled in a
Conference Committee by representatives of the House and Senate.


Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has unveiled a new Republican
agenda for the close of the 20th century, pledging by the year 2001 to
wipe out drug use, improve education, reduce teen pregnancy and
convince Americans that the United States is "a faith-based society."

He told members of the National Religious Broadcasters at a prayer
breakfast May 8 that "the vision that there can be a secular American
polity divorced from the reality of the Creator is a hopeless, empty
desert of despair."

As for the 21st century, Gingrich proposed a way to pay off the
national debt by the year 2024. "We are telling the executive branch
to plan for growth to be 1 percent less than the increase in
revenues," he saiad. "We will, then, over a 22-year period, pay off
the national debt and pay for all of Social Security."

The Washington Times called it the Speaker's "first long-range
domestic policy speech of the 105th Congress. According to that
newspaper, Gingrich said his team would, by January 1, 2001, come up
with a plan for major social reforms. Such issues are expected to
dominate the Speaker's personal agenda "for years to come," a senior
aide to Gingrich said. Several Democrats interviewed by the newspaper
said they would wait to hear specifics before replying.


Senator Jesse Helms (Republican-North Carolina) joined forces May 8
with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Democrat-New York),
Representative Lee H. Hamilton (Democrat-Indiana) and Representative
Larry Combest (Republican-Texas) in introducing legislation the four
Members of Congress say would bring a greater measure of openness and
accountability to the U.S. government by classifying fewer documents
and declassifying even more.

Helms recalled before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee the
countless classified closed-door Pentagon briefings he has received
over the years. "We were informed in great detail," he said, "of
everything that was in The New York Times and The Washington Post that
morning. And when the briefing broke up, we couldn't talk about it --
because it was classified."

If enacted into law, the bill would essentially overhaul a system that
still keeps 40-year old and 50-year old military, diplomatic and
intelligence documents sealed on the grounds that their disclosure
would damage national security. Former Secretary of State Lawrence
Eagleburger told the Senate panel that the system by which millions of
new documents are classified each year by the Pentagon, the Central
Intelligence Agency and the State Department is "a monster."


Senator Charles E. Grassley (Republican-Iowa) says the Pentagon's
financial books are "in a shambles." He cited what he called "problem
disbursements" or payments that are not matched with obligations
before the bills are paid.

The Defense Department's "books are in such a mess," Grassley said,
"that they can't be audited as required by law, the Chief Financial
Officers Act of 1990. When the auditors can't conduct an audit, they
issue a disclaimer of opinion."

The Pentagon, he said, "gets one disclaimer after another -- year
after year. It's a disgrace," said the Senator.


Senator Alfonse D'Amato (Republican-New York) says the Swiss bank
guard who was fired for reporting the shredding of Holocaust-era
documents at Switzerland's largest bank will be remembered around the
world for what he has done. D'Amato called him "a noble man, a noble
hero" who performed "this noble act" of exposing the shredding of
those documents.

Christophe Meili testified before the Senate Banking Committee May 7
and told his story for the first time to the American people. On
January 8, 1997, Meili reported the shredding of documents by the
Union Bank of Switzerland from the Holocaust-era and also managed to
save several documents from destruction, D'Amato said. Meili was then
fired from his job; in addition he has been threatened with
prosecution in Switzerland for allegedly breaking that country's bank
secrecy laws because he turned over the Holocaust-era documents he
saved from destruction to officials of Swiss Jewish groups and then to
the authorities, D'Amato. Meili also testified that he and his family
have received numerous death threats. "We have come here," he told the
Senate panel, "to seek justice and to help bring out the truth."


Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Republican-Mississippi) told
reporters on Capitol Hill the Senate will take up the Conventional
Forces in Europe Treaty May 12.

"This is a treaty," Lott said, "that we have been asking the
administration to send us for some time, and they had not done that.
It's brought about by the need for a new flank agreement which is
critical to European security. It updates a 1990 treaty negotiated
before the collapse of the Soviet empire and places binding limits on
Russian military deployments."

The Majority Leader said "there are some concerns -- that the Clinton
administration had gone too far in accommodating Russia, and those
concerns are being addressed in this resolution of ratification.

"We do have continued disagreement with the administration over the
so-called multilateralization issue," Lott said. "This is the issue
where countries are being added to agreement involving Russia, but
without ratification of that expansion being allowed by the Senate,
even though these are now independent and free states, formerly in the
Soviet Union. There is a provision in the Conventional Forces in
Europe resolution that includes the requirement that the President
agree to submit ABM multilateralization to the Senate for our
ratification. We don't think it will take a long time to get to a
conclusion, but we will go with this on Monday, barring some
complicating factor we don't now see."


With regard to the balanced budget agreement, Lott said "a lot of
questions are being asked; some areas of uncertainty or confusion
exist, and we will continue to work on those. It's like Congressman
Frank Wolf (Republican-Virginia) said last week. What we agreed to
last week was where we want to be at the end of the year, the end of
the fiscal year. Now we've got to go back and put in place budget
resolutions, the enforcement bills, known as reconciliation, and then
the 13 appropriations bills."

Will there be some bumps along the road? Lott asked. "Of course. But
now we've gone from just being involved with the negotiators,
principally the budget people that put together the budget resolution,
to a process that involves various Cabinet secretaries, various
members of the Senate, not just Senators Pete Domenici (Republican-New
Mexico) and Bill Roth (Republican-Delaware), but John McCain
(Republican-Arizona) is going to have a large say on what we might be
able to actually do with regard to spectrum issue. Senator Jim
Jeffords (Republican-Vermont) will be involved in the education
issues. The authorizing chairmen and ranking members will be involved,
not just the budget people and the finance people in the House. It's
not just going to be Representative John Kasich (Republican-Ohio) and
Rep. Bill Archer (Republican-Texas), but it's going to involve
Representative Bud Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania), who has a few
things to say about transportation, and Representative Tom Bliley
(Republican-Virginia), who will be involved in the Medicaid issue.

"So a lot more people will be involved," Lott said, "and I think the
best way to proceed on all this is to calmly continue to work to
clarify problems as best we can, and I think we'll be able to achieve
the goals that we'd like to have through this budget agreement."