The House passed President Clinton's five-year national service proposal Wednesday while the Senate remained locked in a filibuster over a similar measure.
Utah Democrats Bill Orton and Karen Shepherd voted for the plan; Republican Jim Hansen voted against.Administration officials and Senate Republicans spent the day trying to find a compromise, but despite an early evening Republican offer, there was no tangible evidence of progress. The White House appears to have only 58 votes, including those of two Republicans, in hand for a vote scheduled for Thursday on ending the filibuster. Under Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to halt debate, and all 56 Democrats are expected to be for that motion.
The Senate fell one vote short on Thursday of breaking the Republican filibuster.
Immediately after the 59-41 vote, Democrats offered to negotiate further with Republicans demanding cutbacks in the admini-stration's plan to permit college students to perform public service as repayment for college tuition.
Senate Republicans were apparently prepared to stop insisting that the program be created for only two years, a demand that few of them had believed in to begin with.
As an alternative, they argued that spending for two years be set at a total of $800 million, which the administration would accept. But Wednesday night Republicans proposed that the dollar amount for the third year be left unsettled for now and decided in 1995. The administration wants a $700 million figure specified for the third year.
The measure would provide federal grants to encourage young people to volunteer for public service work, including money for training, and for some volunteers, educational vouchers, living allowances, health insurance and child care.
There was no vote on ending debate Wednesday, and the bill was not even debated. But, off the floor, Sen. John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, one of the Republican negotiators, insisted his side was not filibustering. "I view it more as a delay to get some time to talk," he said.
The educational vouchers are the main inducement to volunteers in the bill. Under the Senate measure, a volunteer could get up to two $5,000 grants, one for each year of service. The House cut the annual maximum to $4,720, an amount equal to 90 percent of servicemen's benefits available under the GI bill.
The bill passed in the House on a 275-152 vote and drew more Republican support there than most of Clinton's main legislative proposals have. Twenty-six Republicans joined 248 Democrats and 1 independent in voting for the bill. Five Democrats and 147 Republicans voted against it.
President Clinton took heart in that Republican support, saying the bill was passed "without partisan rancor, in a spirit of community and for the common good."