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Fast Track and the Census

  In case you missed this.
  >           September 24, 1997
  >           House Seeks Leverage for Favored Measures
  >           By ALISON MITCHELL      NY Times
  >           [W] ASHINGTON -- Adding another complication to
  >               President Clinton's drive to win authority to
  >           negotiate new trade accords, the House majority
  >           leader suggested Tuesday that Republicans would
  >           link the trade proposal to action on two of their
  >           initiatives that the administration has threatened
  >           to veto.
  >           With the president largely reliant on Republican
  >           votes to pass his free trade initiative, Rep. Dick
  >           Armey, R-Texas, hinted that House leaders might
  >           use the leverage this gives them to hold out for a
  >           school voucher program that would allow low-income
  >           District of Columbia students to go outside the
  >           local public school system, as well as legislation
  >           that would block the administration from using
  >           statistical sampling to carry out the 2000 census.
  >           Asked by reporters if he was threatening to shelve
  >           a vote this autumn on the "fast track" trade
  >           legislation if the president vetoed two Republican
  >           initiatives, Armey said, "No. I didn't say that."
  >           But when asked about the trade proposal, he said,
  >           "We want to get fast track done, if done
  >           correctly. But we also have some very, very
  >           important other things that we need to have done
  >           on behalf of the American people. And I guess fast
  >           track will just have to take its place in the
  >           queue line compared to some of these other
  >           matters," he said.
  >           The Republican leader's remarks were another sign
  >           of the president's delicate political position as
  >           he attempts to secure the trade negotiating
  >           authority he calls vital to the nation's
  >           prosperity. He faces stiff opposition from
  >           Democratic House leaders and organized labor, with
  >           possibly as few as 50 Democratic supporters in the
  >           House.
  >           Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said
  >           Tuesday that the trade measure would likely be the
  >           very last issue to come to the floor before
  >           Congress adjourns in November.
  >           The census measure and the school voucher pilot
  >           program are among several controversial items
  >           wending their way to Clinton as the House and
  >           Senate rush to put in place the 13 spending bills
  >           needed to finance the government for the fiscal
  >           year that begins on Oct. 1.
  >           While Republicans and Clinton expect to avoid the
  >           kind of contentious confrontation that led to a
  >           government shutdown two years ago, the
  >           administration has threatened to veto two spending
  >           bills if they contain the House voucher or census
  >           measures.
  >           The school voucher plan is a part of a broader
  >           Republican education agenda being put forth this
  >           year with an eye to the 1998 elections. Included
  >           in the House version of a spending package for the
  >           troubled District of Columbia, it would create a
  >           $7 million program to give some low-income parents
  >           vouchers worth $3,500 per child to allow them to
  >           pay tuition at parochial or private schools or to
  >           move their children to suburban schools.
  >           The administration has said in a statement that
  >           Clinton's senior advisers will recommend a veto of
  >           the District spending bill if the House voucher
  >           plan prevails.
  >           "Instead of investing additional resources in
  >           public schools, vouchers would allow a few
  >           selected students to attend private schools and
  >           draw attention away from the hard work of
  >           reforming public schools that serve the
  >           overwhelming majority of D.C. students," the
  >           statement said.
  >           But Armey said Tuesday, "These kids need help now
  >           and there is no better example and no more tragic
  >           example than in Washington, D.C."
  >           The debate over the census is a separate issue
  >           that has been simmering for months. The Census
  >           Bureau wants to use statistical sampling in the
  >           2000 census to adjust for an expected undercount
  >           among members of minority groups and urban
  >           residents.
  >           But the Republicans say the Constitution requires
  >           a head count. They express fears that a sampling
  >           system that increases the count of minority
  >           members could cost them their majority in the
  >           House if congressional districts are redrawn to
  >           take account of the new census.
  >           Last spring, Republicans sought to include a ban
  >           on statistical sampling in legislation to assist
  >           victims of natural disasters. Clinton vetoed the
  >           measure and the battle turned into a tactical
  >           embarrassment for the Republicans.
  >           The House is expected to take up the census issue
  >           again later this week when it debates legislation
  >           to finance the Commerce Department, which includes
  >           the Census Bureau.
  >           The House version of the bill would ban
  >           statistical sampling -- and has drawn a veto
  >           threat from the administration. House Republican
  >           leaders have prepared an alternate measure that
  >           would withhold the money for sampling until the
  >           constitutionality of the method is decided by the
  >           U.S. Supreme Court.
  >           Armey charged that Clinton "politicizes everything
  >           he gets his hands on" and said, "We are not going
  >           to let him control the census."
  >           At the White House, Mike McCurry, the president's
  >           press secretary, reiterated that Clinton viewed
  >           the trade legislation as vital to the economy. But
  >           he was measured about Armey's comments that the
  >           legislation would have to wait its turn, behind
  >           Republican priorities.
  >           "I think," McCurry said, "that we attach much
  >           greater priority to giving the president the
  >           authority he needs to move free trade agreements
  >           forward."
  Pity the poor global goober.
   /s/ Mike Dolan, Field Director, Global Trade Watch, Public Citizen
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                                                        Fred Ross, Sr.