Clinton firm on free airtime

Willing to veto appropriations bill unless Republicans relent

WASHINGTON — Republicans run the risk of seeing an important appropriations bill vetoed by President Clinton if they insist on attaching language to the measure that would bar the FCC from requiring broadcasters to give free time to political candidates.

While he stopped short of a specific veto threat, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Thursday that the bill “is moving closer to a veto by the president” if Republicans succeed in attaching the free airtime provision to it. Among other things, the bill would provide funding for the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and domestic disaster relief.

The White House is a strong supporter of the free airtime proposal, and President Clinton has written twice in the last two months to Federal Communications Commission chairman Bill Kennard, urging him to write rules that would give politicians free time on TV stations to make their pitch to voters.

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