Republicans, White House at odds over budget
November 17, 1999
Web posted at: 4:02 a.m. EST (0902 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House and Congressional Republicans remain at impasse over the budget, and in particular, the issue of across-the-board cuts.
Negotiations between the two sides broke off on Tuesday night, frustrating hopes that a federal spending agreement was at hand.
Sources on both sides tell CNN the big dispute was over a proposed across-the-board budget cut, favored by Republicans but not by the White House. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) told CNN that was "the big problem."
"I am close to the position right now that if there are not
across-the-board cuts I will not support the bill," Domenici said.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), said the cuts were necessary to provide "credibility" to "offsets" from the administration, cuts in some programs to pay for increases in other programs favored by the administration.
House Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Florida), said the Republicans' 1 percent across-the-board spending cut proposal has been cut in half. Young told reporters that although the bargaining position of White House negotiator Jack Lew has been to oppose the spending cut, the Republicans got word from the president he could support it.
"Speaker (Dennis) Hastert has told me on several occasions -- and I talked to him this evening -- that he spoke to the president yesterday and the president said he could agree to an across-the-board cut, and at this point the package that we're suggesting is less than half-a-percent in cuts, that's less than half a penny for every dollar that we appropriate for a government that is very large and very wasteful."
GOP aides say their leadership has decided to continue to push for an across-the-board cut because claiming to cut waste, fraud and abuse in government is a good political issue.
Negotiators had hoped to reach a tentative agreement Tuesday evening on a large bill which includes five outstanding spending measures.
As he walked down the hall, Stevens expressed the frustration of many Republicans who feel they have been bested in the bargaining, saying, "If they won, why can't they agree to this one little thing."
From Correspondent Bob Franken and Producer Dana Bash