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Budget woes and set backs

President signs a stop-gap funding bill, but Congress bogs down elsewhere

September 30, 1995
Web posted at: 9:15 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton signed an emergency spending bill passed by Congress that will prevent the U.S. government from shutting down this weekend. But the battle over the budget is far from over.

Military Aircraft

The Senate passed the stop-gap measure Friday; the House's bill passed Thursday.

But work on the "real budget" was rough going. The best laid plans of Republicans went astray when two spending bills failed to clear their final hurdle in the House. And the Senate got sucked into legislative quicksand.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole tried to put up a brave front.

"Let me first indicate that we are making progress," he said. "I am not certain where, but somewhere we must be making progress."

In the House, the snarl came over the Defense Department Spending Bill, rejected by most Democrats who think too much money is being spent. Republican conservatives shunned it because they wanted stronger anti-abortion language.

Bob Dornan

"Saint Peter, on my judgment day, will not ask me about the B-2 or my defense votes," said Rep. Bob Dornan, R-California. "He will ask me about my vote to protect innocent human life."

House members also returned an Interior Department spending bill to conference committee in a dispute over government-owned mining lands. And while the House backtracked, the Senate spun its wheels.

Unable to get enough votes to even start the giant Labor-Health and Human Services Bill, senators toiled over the equally controversial measure to fund the Commerce, State and Justice Departments.

But finally, shortly after 11:30 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee came to an agreement: they passed, by a 17-3 vote, a Medicaid bill that eliminates aid to the poor except for children, pregnant women and the disabled. The money will be paid to states in block grants instead.

In addition to the Medicaid restructuring, the committee voted along party lines for a sweeping measure that would cut back Medicare for the elderly and reduce the earned income tax credit for the working poor. It would also make permanent a ban on the use of federal funds to provide abortions for poor women, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

The committee also approved an unprecedented $530 billion in spending cuts to take place over seven years. The cuts are the foundation of Republican plans to balance the budget by 2002.

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