Big cities with chronically high unemployment rates were losers yesterday as the House took a first tentative vote on a state and local antirecession aid bill.
The bill would authorize up to $1 billion in aid to state and local governments next year if the gross national product declines in two consecutive quarters. As drafted by the Government Operations Committee, the bill also would hand out $250 million to the most depressed local governments next spring, without waiting for a drop in the GNP to signify the start of a recession. This would help such always ailing big cities as New York, Newark and Detroit.
The administration wanted even more money for this "targeted aid" program. But the House voted 184 to 153 to cut the funds back to $150 million, the amount that was in the month after a compromise between Reps. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), L. H. Fountain (D. N.C.) and the administration got the long-stalled legislation moving.
The big cities lost yesterday in part because several members from northeastern cities were absent. Democratic leaders had scheduled final votes on the bill Monday, but further action was put off until January because members have become accustomed to not having record votes on Mondays and more absences were expected. The House could reconsider yesterday's vote before taking final action on the bill.