Results of 104th Congress
Major legislation passed by the 104th Congress, which
convened in January 1995:
- WELFARE - The long-standing federal guarantee of assistance to every
person who qualifies will end, to be replaced by state
programs financed partially by federal grants. Eligibility
for welfare generally will be limited to five years. Food
stamps and aid to legal immigrants will be scaled back
- HEALTH - Workers who change jobs will be assured continued health
coverage without a waiting period for pre-existing
conditions. Insurers will have to pay for at least 48
hours' hospital care for newborns and their mothers and
provide higher benefits for mental-health care.
- BUDGET - A large majority of lawmakers agreed on balancing the budget
by the year 2002, but disagreed on details. In 1995 none of
the 13 regular spending bills was enacted by the Oct. 1
deadline; seven were in place this year.
Republicans claimed $53 billion saved in spending cuts. The
president was given authority to eliminate individual
spending items from appropriation bills. This line-item veto
option is effective with the next elected president.
- TAXES - No across-the-board tax reduction, although targeted cuts
were approved for adoption expenses and long-term health
care. New legislation helps small business bear the cost of
raising the minimum wage and helps the self-employed buy
- MINIMUM WAGE - The $4.25-an-hour federal minimum wage rises in two steps to
- RETIREMENT - Social Security recipients between 65 and 69 who still work
will be able to earn more and continue receiving all their
benefits. Small businesses will have greater incentive to
offer retirement plans for workers. Many stay-at-home
spouses will qualify for bigger tax-deductible Individual
- FARM POLICY - Farmers will decide for themselves what crops to plant. Lump-
sum payments to farmers will be phased out over seven years.
Subsidies and price supports for corn, other feed grains,
cotton, rice and wheat will end.
- CRIME - More money for police on the street. Limitation of appeals in
death-penalty cases. Tougher penalties for crimes against the
elderly and children. Interstate stalking made a federal
crime. Increased federal authority to fight terrorism.
More money for anti-drug efforts. Sex offenders who have
finished their sentences will have to register with police;
communities must be notified if authorities fear the
offenders will strike again. Expedited deportation of
But Congress failed to agree on proposals to attach taggants
to explosives that would have helped authorities in tracing
their origin. It also refused to give the FBI broad new
wiretap authority in legislation aimed at combating
- ENVIRONMENT - A new standard restricts cancer-causing pesticides in fresh
and processed foods and also targets residues that increases
the risk of birth defects. A new Safe Drinking Water Act
zeroes in on pollutants posing the greatest risk to health.
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS - A major overhaul allows local telephone companies to enter
the long-distance business; big gas and electric companies
will be able to offer telecommunications services. A "V-
chip" eventually will screen TV programs for violence and
- SPEED LIMIT - The 55 mph federal speed limit repealed.
- FOREIGN POLICY - Penalties for companies that use property confiscated from
U.S. owners by Fidel Castro's government in Cuba and for
those that assist Libya and Iran develop their oil and gas
- GAY MARRIAGES - States will be allowed to refuse to recognize same-sex
marriages. No federal spousal benefits will be available in
- CONGRESSIONAL OPERATIONS - In general, a federal law that imposes requirements on states
and local governments will have to include money to pay for
them. Civil-rights and worker-protection laws now apply to
Disclosure by congressional lobbyists is required. Members
and staff may no longer accept meals, travel or other gifts
except for those with only token value.
- VETOED - Passed by Congress but vetoed successfully by President
- BUDGET: A seven-year plan for balancing the budget,
which included a tax credit of $500 per child, was vetoed on
grounds the proposed scalebacks in Medicare the elderly and
Medicaid for the poor were harmful.
- ABORTION: A bill banning certain late-term abortions
was vetoed on the ground that it left no protection for a
mother whose health or fertility was threatened.
- LAWSUITS: A bill limiting damage awards in lawsuits
alleging defective products was vetoed on grounds it would
deny protection to consumers and let wrongdoers the hook.
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