WASHINGTON -- President Clinton late last week signed without comment a $22 billion energy appropriations bill containing $640 million of funding to terminate the Superconducting Super Collider.
Clinton was a vocal supporter of the $11 billion atomic energy research project, but had warned that saving it would be difficult this year in the face of the intensive push in Congress to cut spending. Many Democrats differed with the President over the collider, forcing him to keep a low profile during the congressional debate.
Clinton attempted to forestall opponents in Congress as well as collider critics within his own administration by proposing in his February 1993 budget to stretch out the funding recommended by former President Bush over several years.
After months of torturous debate, during which the House voted twice by overwhelming margins to terminate funding, the decision to end the collider finally was made by a House-Senate conference committee on Oct. 21.
The Senate, which for years had prevailed in saving the collider from its House critics, on Wednesday hardly flinched in approving by 89 to 11 the bill's close-out funds. The federal funding is indirectly tied to a $250 million Texas lease revenue bond issue for the project, according to the bonds' offering documents. The bonds are directly backed by a state appropriation pledge, which Texas officials have repeatedly said they intend to honor.
State finance officials say they also are considering several options to pay off or refinance the lease bonds using the issue's extraordinary redemption procedures.