Box 7, Folder 12, Document 4

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By ve Edstrom

Washington Post Staff Writer

Of all the strategy meet-
ings that took place during
the week that the Office of
Economie Opportunity won
the battle for its life in the
House, one unpublicized ses-
sion is fast becoming the
talk of the town,

It was set up by the Lead-
ership Confernece on Civil
tights and took place on
Capitol Hill. As 11th-hour
assignments to gain Con-
gressional support for OFO
were about to be made, an
extraordinary preeaution-
ary move was taken.

The representative from
OEO was asked to leave the

“We couldn't
chances,” one civil rights
legislative technician — said.
“We just couldn't be sure
OEO was walking down the
same side of the street with

Despite statements hy
OEO Director Donald Rums-
feld that the Nixon adminis-
stration stood behind its
bill to keep OEO intact,
there were numerous rea-
sons why OEFO's chief sup-
porters distrusted the ad-

take any


At a news conference Dee.
8, President Nixon had ex-
pressed hope that an “ac-
commodation’ could he
reached on the OEO legisla-

To many OEO supporters,
this meant that some
version of a substitute bill
giving control of most OFO
programs to the states
would be acceptable to the

Efforts by the Nation's
mayors and Urban Coalition
Action Council members to
fet Mr. Nixon to make a
strong statement against
the substitute bill failed,

And labor and civil rights
legislative technicians were
frustrated by OFO's fallure
to even come up with a head
count of Republicans who
could be relied on to yote
against the substitute,

“The only thing that
makes sense is to share in-
formation,” the AFL-CIO's
Kenneth Young said. “But
we got next to nothing from

“This is just the opposite
of what happened in ihe
last few days when we
worked closely with the De-
partment of Health, Educa-

tion and Welfare against the

it OQ) WA ght

ap v6

Whitten amendment to cur-
tail Federal school desegre-
gation powers.”

The Urban Coalition Ac-
tion Council's Lowell R.
Beck found it highly wun-
usual that there was no ov-
erall administration strate-
gy to guide those who were
fighting for OEO.

‘Not the Alain Cog’

“T've been around here
for 10 years and you usual-
ly work to supplement and
support administration elf-
forts.” he said. “You're not
the main coz in developing
strategy to pass administra-
lion legislation.”

But those working for
OLO's survival found they
not only were the “main
cog” in mapping out strate-
ey but that some of their
efforts were being seuttled
by OO representatives,

While the coalition af
OLFO supporicrs was work-
ing to kill the state-control
substitute, OO was con-
sulting with House mem-
bers on amendments to
make the substitute more

“Wei were violently op-
posed to perfecting the sub-
stitute and history proved

~~ a


us right,” civil rights leader
Joseph L. Hauh Jr. said.
“The administration was
ready to settle for much

Therefore, the OEO repre-
sentatives was asked to leave
the Leadership Conference
mecting on Dec. 10, because
supporters of OFO felt it
unwise to share their stra-
tegy with the agency.

‘In The Dark’

“They let us work in the
dark,” one civic jeader said.
“leet sicl every time I read
hew the administration
pulled off a great legislative

“A lot of blood, sweat and
tears went into this battle,
but it would have been as
easy as pie if we had re-
ceived White House sup-

No one discounts the fact
that Rums!eld was highly
successful in preventing
some of his former col-
leagues in ihe House from
handing most of the poverty
programs over to the states
when the crucial vole came
on Dee, 12,

But numerous other fac-
tors were involved, Not to be
underestimated is the faet
that 58 members who had
voted to scrap a strong vot- j
ing rights law the previous
night switched to onpase
state control of the peverty

“They just didn’t want to
fire two bullets in a row at

the poor,” one observed said.

‘It's entirely possible that
we could have won the vot-
ing rights fight and fost the
poverty one if the legisla-
tion had been taken up in

Of equal importance was
the intensive lobbying effort
that the Nation’s mayors
conducted against taking
poverty programs away from
local officials.

Their effort was similar to
that mounted by the Ameri-
ean Bar Association when it
was responsible for knock-
ing out a Senate-passed
amendment to give govern-
nors control of legal pro-
grams for the poor.

And in all the hubbub
over the poverty bill, scant
attention was paid to the
role that the governors did
not play.

With few exceptions, the
governors did not embrace
the idea of being saddled
with OFQO. As one reported-
ly said:

“Hell, who wants to have
the Statehouse blamed for
OLO's problems. It's much
easier to blast Washington,”

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