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House OKs $520 Bil. Spending Bill

October 20, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House ignored yearlong partisan rifts Tuesday and resoundingly approved a colossal $520 billion spending bill pumping cash to farmers, teachers and the Pentagon and campaign-season bounty to lawmakers of all stripes.

The 333-95 vote reflected a compromise, struck last week between the White House and congressional leaders, that gave both parties victories to crow about. It also underlined that most lawmakers were weary of the 1998 budget fight and eager to get home to campaign for the Nov. 3 congressional elections.

The vote put the House on the cusp of completing its legislative work for the year, and handed the measure to the Senate for likely passage on Wednesday. President Clinton was poised to sign it.

The sheer bulk of the compromise spoke for itself: About 4,000 pages long, the bill weighed 40 pounds and stood 16 inches tall. Most legislators, aides and lobbyists could only guess at what items had been squirreled away in it.

``I don’t think ever in my life ... have I ever done something so much on faith″ as support the bill, said Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., defended the legislation against accusations by some conservatives that it represented a retreat from Republican goals of cutting taxes and spending.

Contrasting the bipartisan pact with the bellicose 1995 and 1996 budget fight with Clinton that produced two federal shutdowns, Gingrich lectured his own party’s conservatives, labeling them ``the perfectionist caucus.″

Criticizing in unusually harsh terms those who wanted the package rejected, Gingrich said lawmakers ``who have grown up and matured in this process understand we have to work together on big issues.″

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