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FINISH WORK ON CRIME BILL, CONGRESS URGED

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Urging Congress to finish work on the crime bill, President Clinton said guns, drugs, gangs and crime are sapping the unity of Americans and threatening to blight the nation's future.

"No issue poses the need to come together more to deal with the problems we face than does the cancer of crime and violence that is eating away at the bonds that unite us as a people," the president said in his weekly radio address, broadcast Saturday.Clinton also said that the welfare reform plan he offered last week "will encourage personal responsibility and help strengthen our families through tougher child support, more education and training, and an absolute requirement to go to work after a period of time."

But Republicans, in a response delivered by Sen. Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina, attacked the plan as defending the current welfare system. Faircloth called its work provisions"a total sham" and said that overall, it is "wrong for America."

"It spends too much, it has too many loopholes, and it's just another phony big government program," he said.

But Clinton said: "Our goal is not to hand anyone anything, but to improve the economy, offer opportunities, strengthen families and communities so that people can assume the responsibility to make a better life for themselves."

The president recorded his remarks in Chicago on Friday after visiting the Robert Taylor Homes, a south-side housing project overrun by gangs and ravaged by crime.

"I went there because it's a good place to emphasize to all Americans that we have begun a nationwide effort to drive the guns, the gangs and the drugs from public housing and from all neighborhoods where Americans feel terrorized," Clinton said.

Both houses of Congress have passed a crime bill; Clinton said the time has come to agree on a final version and send it to his desk.