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KEMP’S HUD CLEANUP PLAN GETS SUPPORT IN CONGRESS
DESIGNED TO CURB POLITICAL INFLUENCE ON HOUSING FUNDS

SHARE KEMP’S HUD CLEANUP PLAN GETS SUPPORT IN CONGRESS
DESIGNED TO CURB POLITICAL INFLUENCE ON HOUSING FUNDS

Housing Secretary Jack Kemp is winning support in Congress for much of his broad plan to curb political influence in distributing housing subsidies.

Kemp on Tuesday unveiled a 58-point plan to clean up the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would eliminate spending at the secretary's discretion and impose new management and ethics regulations."Many past funding decisions were, frankly, based on political influence rather than merit," Kemp said. "Under my stewardship, no decisions will be made at HUD for the political advantage or personal gain of any one person or of a political party."

Kemp, in announcing his program, said he did not believe the appointment of a special prosecutor was necessary to investigate allegations of past influence-peddling at the agency.

Kemp's predecessor, Samuel R. Pierce Jr., and three of Pierce's former top assistants have refused to testify before Congress, citing their constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the chairman of a House subcommittee that is investigating fraud and mismanagement at HUD during the Reagan administration, said he supported most of Kemp's plan.

"I believe Secretary Kemp is on the right track," Lantos said after meeting with Kemp.

But Lantos said he was not ready to go along with Kemp's suggestion that there is no need for the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program. The program has been at the center of the HUD scandals, and Lantos says it was plundered by political insiders during the Reagan administration.

Kemp's proposed changes range from regulatory and administrative steps he can take immediately to more complex changes that will require congressional approval.

In other congressional action:

-Health insurance: The House was ready for a showdown Wednesday on whether to repeal catastrophic health insurance, with architects of the year-old program conceding their highest expectation is to salvage only a small piece of it.

Whatever the House vote - and even backers admitted they expected a full repeal to prevail - a final decision on the program must await negotiations with the Senate later in the fall.

-Drug bill: The Senate prepared to act Wednesday on a wide-ranging anti-drug bill that would send 1,350 more federal agents into the streets to fight the drug war and provide free treatment to poor addicts seeking to kick the habit.

The Senate adopted numerous provisions to the bill Tuesday but delayed final action until Wednesday.

The provisions approved ranged from prevention and treatment programs for teenagers and "latchkey" children to a study on the effectiveness of one-shot syringes that could curb drug use and reduce the risk of AIDS.

-Capital-gains tax: An evenly divided Senate Finance Committee refused early Wednesday to reduce the tax on capital gains, voting instead to liberalize Individual Retirement Accounts in an effort to encourage saving.

The 10-10 vote was split nearly along party lines, but both sides agreed the battle will be fought again on the Senate floor, perhaps later this week.

The vote came on an amendment by Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., to substitute a capital gains cut for the expanded IRAs that Chairman Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, had written into the bill. The Bush administration supports Packwood's plan.

The tie vote retained Bentsen's plan to liberalize IRAs.

-Art funding: Civil libertarians and members of the arts community seem to be accepting House-passed limitations on federal aid to "obscene" art as restrictions they can accept.

The House voted 381-41 Tuesday to send the Senate a spending bill containing the guidelines after adopting them on a voice vote. Senate approval is expected this week, and President Bush is expected to sign the measure. The restrictions are a retreat from a stricter ban that Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and other conservatives fought for over the last three months.

-Fairness doctrine: The House is trying once again to write a fairness doctrine to require broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. On a 261-162 vote Tuesday, the House refused to strip the fairness provision from a budget reconciliation bill.