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JIM LEHRER: Kwame Holman has the Congress story.
SPOKESMAN: House concurrent Resolution 331, concurrent resolution, expressing the sense of Congress concerning the inadequacy of sewage infrastructure facilities in Tijuana Mexico.
KWAME HOLMAN: One day after its passionate debate and vote approving an impeachment inquiry of President Clinton, the House of Representatives moved on to a long list of legislative action. THOMAS: HR4353…House Resolution 212 — S1298 -
KWAME HOLMAN: Missing from that list however were the appropriations bills still awaiting congressional approval and the President’s signature to fund most federal departments and agencies. A temporary, “catch-all” spending bill…known as a continuing resolution…has supplied that funding since the new fiscal year began on October 1st. But that bill expires at midnight.
SEN. TRENT LOTT: Calendar number 368 – HR 10 – calendar number 447 –
KWAME HOLMAN: On the Senate side, Majority Leader Trent Lott lumped together several pieces of legislation, brought them to the floor, and got them all approved in a matter of seconds.
SENT. TRENT LOTT: I should note that this has been cleared with the Democratic side.
KWAME HOLMAN: None of those was a spending bill either…but some had importance for members nonetheless.
TORRICELLI: This is a simple effort to conserve 15 acres of land in Morristown, New Jersey. It is for most Americans a sacred piece of real estate. It is where George Washington spent the winter of 1779.
KWAME HOLMAN: At the beginning of the day, only five of the 13 annual appropriations bills had been approved and signed or were about to be signed. The President vetoed the Agriculture Bill he said because it did not provide enough emergency financial relief for farmers. And several bills awaited final congressional action. This morning, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said disputes over the amount of money to be spent on specific programs were just one reason those bills hadn’t yet been approved.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE: There’s an of policy questions, too, David. It’s not just the money. I mean, we’ve got to look at school construction, we’ve got to look at class size, we’ve got to look at the agriculture issues I’ve been talking about. We have to make sure all the environmental riders are out of Interior.
KWAME HOLMAN: This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Lott tried to expedite passage of the Treasury Postal Appropriations Bill.
SEN. TRENT LOTT: The conference report be considered as having been read.
KWAME HOLMAN: But Nevada Democrat Harry Reid blocked speedy action on that bill because an amendment had been stripped out that would have allowed federal employee health plans to cover contraceptives. Reid — as any senator had the right to do — demanded the entire text of the Treasury-Postal Bill be read aloud. It took more than three hours. Back on the House side, members acted quickly to approve a Medicare bill making more money available for home health care.
REP. DICK LAZIO: This critical piece of health care that helps Americans stay in there own home, protects families, keeps them together, builds stronger communities.
KWAME HOLMAN: And then, one day after sponsoring the Democratic proposal to limit the length of the President’s impeachment inquiry, Virginia’s Rick Boucher offered another resolution.
REP. RICK BOUCHER: Which recognizes the contributions of the cities of Bristol, Virginia, and Tennessee and the birthplace of country music.
KWAME HOLMAN: It wasn’t until about 5 this afternoon that another temporary catch-all spending bill was brought to the floor to fund the government through Monday. Quick approval by Congress and a presidential signature were expected before tonight’s midnight deadline, giving negotiators the weekend to continue to work toward an overall spending agreement.