Social Spending Bill Likely to Be Delayed

Congressional Republicans will probably delay writing a bill financing health, education and other programs until at least next week, underlining their inability to decide how to pay for the year's biggest spending measure.

The House and Senate Appropriations committees both planned to write separate $300 billion measures this week financing the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services for fiscal 2000, which begins Oct. 1. Congress returns from its August recess today.

But GOP and Democratic aides in both chambers said the legislation would probably be written next week at the earliest. The chief problem is that Republicans are still struggling to decide how to finance the measure without using the Social Security surplus, money that both parties have repeatedly pledged not to spend.

Republicans must find about $16 billion in savings if they are to avoid using Social Security funds to help pay for the measure. Among the options they have considered are cutting federal payments to the states for Medicaid, welfare and child support enforcement. The nation's governors have opposed those proposals.

Clinton Urged to Seek Taiwan Vow From Jiang

A key House committee chairman urged President Clinton to press Chinese President Jiang Zemin to renounce the use of force against Taiwan when the two meet this week at an Asia-Pacific economic summit.

In a letter to Clinton, Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-N.Y.), head of the International Relations Committee, asked the president to "personally call upon the Chinese to renounce the use of force against Taiwan," saying Congress was concerned about threats against Taipei by mainland China.

Clinton and Jiang are due to meet in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference summit.

The meeting, which comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-Chinese relations, is likely to be dominated by the chaotic violence in East Timor and continuing tension in the Taiwan Strait.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has warned Taipei not to consider holding a referendum on independence like the one in East Timor last week, saying the result would be "very dangerous."