The Seattle Finance Committee voted 10 to 5 yesterday to approve legislation that would give cities and states federal antirecession aid.
The vote was seen as a major break-through for President Carter's urban program. Until yesterday the program had suffered repeated defeats on Capitol Hill.
Finance Committee Chairman Russell B. Long (D-La.) was largely responsible for pushing through the compromise measure, which revises the aid concept of a White House bill now trapped in a House subcommittee.
The administration bill would have provided $1 billion a year over two year period to citics with high unemployment. The House Banking subcommittee on intergovernmental relations voted last week to postpone consideration of the bill indefinitely.
The legislation approved yesterday also would continue antirecession aid, if needed, for the next two years. But it contains less money and, at the same time, is expected to allow for a wider distribution of funds than the administration bill.
The compromise proposal is in two parts.
Title I would provide a base of $125 million to cities for three-month periods, as long as the national unemployment rate remains at 6 percent. It would add $30 million for each tenth of a percentage point over 6 percent.
Funding under Title I would end if the national unemployment rate fell below 6 percent for six months of the year, or two quarters.
Such an occurrence would trigger Title II of the compromise.
Under Title II, cities and states would be eligible for antirecession aid while their local unemployment rates remained at or above 4.5 percent, and as long as the national unemployment rate did not fall below 5 percent.
By comparison, the White House bill contained no provision for state antirecession funding.
Title II also would give recipeint cities and states "freedom of choice," a provision for which long Long fought hard.
The choice would work this way. Cities and states eligible for antirecession help would be able to get federal dollars through either revenue sharing or the straight antirecession formula - whichever would provide the largest amount of funding.
Long said some states and cities would "do better" under revenue sharing, which distributes funds based on the population, tax effort, and income level of a given area.
He said other localities would be better off under the straight antirecession formula, where the main consideration is unemployment.
Title II would privide up to $500 million a year. It would offer an additional, estimated $150 million, if needed, to make sure that there is enough money to protect recipient cities and states from losing money by choosing one formula over the other.
The committee voted to attach the compromise proposal to House Bill 2052, originally a measure that called for the waiver of the excise fuel tax on airplanes used in crop spraying.
Antirecession aid supporters were hoping that both bills would fly.