WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers struggled to win last-minute changes in a huge $500 billion spending measure or to find out precisely what was in it as Congress prepared for its likely passage Tuesday.
White House officials and congressional leaders agreed to the package last Thursday after a week of bargaining. But lawmakers spent Monday resolving lingering disputes over extending some tariffs and buttressing the Medicare home health-care program, Many members of Congress and aides professed ignorance about a measure that some officials said would number about 4,000 pages.
There was little suspense about the ultimate outcome: Congress was expected to ship the measure Tuesday to President Clinton for his signature. To give him time to sign it the following day, Congress planned to send him a measure letting agencies stay open through Wednesday, the fifth such stopgap bill since fiscal 1999 began Oct. 1.
Even the likeliest pocket of opposition — conservative House Republicans — was said to be split over a bill that gave that group victories such as restrictions on Internet pornography, but defeats such as $20 billion in so-called emergency spending to be paid for out of expected federal surpluses.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., was hoping his chamber could approve the measure by voice vote. That would make it unnecessary for senators — most of whom left Washington a week ago — to return to the Capitol, since its passage would mark the end of Congress’ legislative work for the year, save a few lesser bills.