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Thursday, October 24, 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER NationA-5 House OKs $ billion transit bill despite veto threat Democrats plan all-nighter for jobless ENQUIRER NEWS SERVICES WASHINGTON Despite the threat of a presidential veto, the House Wednesday passed a $151 billion transportation bill that would extend part of the current gas tax, scheduled to expire in 1995, until the end of the century. The six-year act passed 343-83, a margin that would override a veto threatened by President Bush. It would provide a record $119 billion to repair and build highways and bridges across the nation. It also would double spending on mass transit to $32 billion. The bill was assailed by Republicans during the daylong debate as squandering federal funds on unnecessary projects in many members' home districts. "We need to get the pork out to control the deficit," Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said as lawmakers neared a vote on the bill. Others said it wrongfully favors mass transit systems at the expense of highways. But supporters of the measure said it represents a historic step to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges while speeding the movement of goods and services and combating traffic congestion. Although the lopsided vote put members of both political parties squarely behind the bill, the outcome of the legislation remains clouded. In June, the Senate passed a five-year, $123.5 billion bill that differs from the House version in several important ways. A principal difference between the House and the Senate bills lies in the Senate's reluctance to steer a large portion of the spending toward major highway projects. Another main difference involves the formulas used to divide the money among the states. The differences could lead to major confrontations before Congress reaches a compromise. Bush has threatened a veto in any event because the House bill would extend a tax of 2.5C a gallon on gasoline and includes 457 special projects requested by lawmakers that the administration considers wasteful, pork-barrel spending. ENQUIRER NEWS SERVICES WASHINGTON - Democrats prepared to spend all night Wednesday on the House floor discussing the suffering of the nation's 8.4 million jobless people and sniping at what they say is President Bush's "cynicism and insen-sitivity." About 30 House Democrats were to talk until morning on the need to help the unemployed, as lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol worked on legisla tion expanding benefits for the long-term jobless. But Bush signaled Wednesday that he would veto the bill, which is expected to pass overwhelmingly next week, despite efforts by Democrats to tailor legislation to satisfy White House objections. The Senate last week failed to override a Bush veto of legislation adding up to 20 weeks to the standard 26 weeks of unemployment coverage. TC Lawmakers to debate rights bill ENQUIRER NEWS SERVICES . WASHINGTON Hamstrung by procedural delays and fruitless negotiations, the Senate on Wednesday inched toward consideration of a civil rights bill. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said debate on the controversial measure labeled a "quota bill" by President Bush will begin today at 11 a.m. Senate Republican Leader Robert Dole said negotiations were continuing with the Bush administration on a compromise version that Bush would sign. But others spoke pessimistically about those prospects. And they pointed to the new statement from the White House budget office saying Bush's top advisers were recommending a veto if the bill remains unchanged. "I think we're now in a veto fight," said one Republican familiar with the discussions, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. Supporters are confident they have enough votes to pass the bill. The struggle has been to put together a two-thirds majority, 67 votes, that would overcome a Bush veto. He vetoed a similar bill last year. Most of Wednesday, the chamber was eerily silent and empty, as a series of back-room deals were sought among legislators and the White House. The bill was also held up by disagreements over how to investigate leaks to the news media during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Senate fighting forces a vote on leak probe ENQUIRER NEWS SERVICES WASHINGTON Senate negotiations broke down Wednesday over the conduct of a leak investigation, virtually ensuring passage of the expanded probe sought by majority Democrats. The Senate is expected today to approve a proposal for a special independent counsel to investigate leaks of sexual harassment charges raised against Clarence Thomas during the Supreme Court confirmation process, and report to the Senate by early next year. After Senate leaders failed in two days of negotiations to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to conduct the probe, Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, said Wednesday night that the Senate will vote today on the Democratic proposal and on a Republican alternative for a 30-day FBI investigation. With Democrats controlling the chamber 57 to 43, their plan is expected to prevail. Under the plan, the special counsel, appointed by Mitchell and Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., would use the FBI and the General Accounting Office to conduct the probe. Women skip hearing after Hill testimony THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON Three women scheduled to testify Wednesday before Congress about job discrimination backed out because of negative reactions to testimony by law Professor Anita Hill during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. "This is one of the negatives three people who are victims who are reluctant to testify," Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., said in opening a Senate Labor subcommittee hearing into job discrimination. "They thought it would jeopardize their career if they came forward," Simon spokesman Christopher Ryan said earlier. They were to testify about hitting a "glass ceiling" that kept them from being promoted. .fc ''u " MH ,.$!,m ffiTffi 'XM C flif T AVWt mw ( I ( I I I I n hi:.h;,... . "5 fSP VJ7 fvp n farp fo) f '' m., -,r:.. rJy I O0 v7 I Pip 1 13 I CUq lr Mi:',i:.