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Clinton would sign gas tax cut if GOP raised minimum wage President wants bills without extra provisions

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- Sparring with his Republican opponent yesterday, President Clinton said for the first time that he would sign a GOP-backed bill repealing his 1993 tax increase of 4.3 cents per gallon of gasoline.

But Clinton insisted that Congress also should pass a Democrat-backed bill raising the minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $5.15. The president stressed that if Congress passed both measures separately and "clean" -- without other provisions -- he would sign them and thus break a "logjam" on Capitol Hill.

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Clinton challenged Congress to follow that "clean" approach for 90 days and pass a raft of pending bills on everything from welfare reform to health insurance.

He would sign them all, the president said -- so long as they were tailored to his specifications and lacked GOP refinements, which Clinton termed "poison pills."

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Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting, watched Clinton's White House news room performance on television, then matched it with one of his own from the Senate TV gallery.

Dole's tone was dismissive from the start.

"Well, I've had the opportunity to watch President Clinton in his bipartisan or whatever statement on cooperation from Congress," the Kansas senator began, then blamed Clinton for blocking a balanced budget, welfare reform, tax cuts, and pension reform.

"And all of these issues, I can tell the president, remain priorities for the Republican Congress," Dole said.

As for Clinton's talk about breaking a "logjam," Dole advised him to consult Democratic leaders in Congress.

Pub Date: 5/09/96


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