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Hastert Reining In GOP

Some rebel Republicans will reportedly get their marching orders Tuesday.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert will sit them down and tell them to fall in line or risk losing control of the House, according to reports Tuesday in The Washington Post.

Close associates say Hastert feels it's time to take a tougher stand with fellow Republicans who've been standing in the way of important spending bills. They tell the paper that the speaker will warn the dissidents that, once the leadership decides on a course of action, the troops have to fall in line.

Meanwhile, Hastert is looking to get things moving and start passing spending bills. To do that, aides say he wants to move about $7 billion from defense and other bills over to domestic programs.

House Republican leaders also are considering legislation that would restrict youth access to video games, movies and other items containing violent and sexually explicit material.

The proposals, which also would require record companies to put copies of song lyrics in stores, so adults could check them first, are among several prepared by House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde to include in legislation cracking down on juvenile crime.

The measure is expected to reach the House floor by next week, and has become the focus for responding to the April shooting deaths at Columbine High School.

House Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for passage of gun-control provisions that cleared the Senate, including a requirement for mandatory background checks for all gun show sales. The National Rifle Association has launched a fresh lobbying effort against the gun-control proposals.

GOP leaders hope to push the agriculture bill, the first of the 13 spending measures for fiscal 2000, through the House as early as Tuesday.

Conservatives and other critics have said that under the leadership's earlier blueprint, about six of the domestic spending bills covering education, veterans and other popular programs would not have enough money to even pass the House, let alone get President Clinton's signature. That would leave Republicans in a weakened bargaining position for end-of-year talks with the White House, they argued.

Under the 1997 budget pact (and under a GOP-written budget for 2000 that Congress approved in April), lawmakers must hold spending to $538 billion next year for all federal agencies. That excludes Social Security, interest to federal debt holders and other automatically required benefits and payments. The overall federal budget is $1.7 trillion.

Under a blueprint approved last month, House Republicans would spend $270 billion for the Pentagon, $19 billion more than this year. That leaves $268 billion for the 12 other bills: $25 billion less than this year, and more than $30 billion below what President Clinton has requested.

Under the new Hastert plan, about $7 billion would be distributed among many of the domestic bills i hopes of increasing the number the House can pass and that Mr. Clinton would sign.

About $2.6 billion would come from revenue projections from government sales of parts of the broadcast spectrum.

The rest would be money shifted from the defense, military construction, agriculture, transportation and other bills.

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