October 28, 1995
Web posted at: 3:15 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders traded barbs Saturday over the budget bills passed by the House and Senate this week. But before the president can make good on a threatened veto of the measure, Republicans will have reconcile their own differences on how to bring the country's ledger sheets into balance.
The Senate passed its version of a bill bringing fundamental changes to government funding practices just after midnight Saturday. The House's bill was approved Thursday. But the two versions show that the Republican majorities in both houses are not entirely in agreement.
While both bills promise to reduced taxes by $245 billion though 2002, they differ on how to get the job done. The House bill, for example, gives families making up to $200,000 a year a $500-per-child tax credit, while the Senate bill caps the income limit at $75,000 for single parents or $110,000 per couple.
Conservative senators were unhappy about several amendments -- supported by Democrats and moderate Republicans -- aimed at restoring some funding to Medicaid, Medicare, and the student loan fund. Republican presidential hopeful Phil Gramm of Texas took aim at fellow candidate Bob Dole, the Senate majority leader, saying that "not everyone is equally committed to the Contract With America."
But the Contract's author, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, appeared with Dole on the GOP's weekly radio address Saturday to jointly skewer President Clinton's promised veto of Republican budget measures. (Transcript of Republican weekly radio address)
"This is the road Republicans chose for America," Gingrich said of the Republican plan. "Unfortunately, President Clinton promises to be a roadblock." ( 229K AIFF sound or 229K WAV sound)
An hour earlier, in his weekly radio address, Clinton called Republican tactics "blackmail," and said he would not sign a bill that is "bad for our long-term interests." (Transcript of President Clinton's weekly radio address)
"They have said they won't pass a bill letting the government pay its bills unless I accept their extreme and misguided budget priorities," Clinton said. "...I'm not about to give into that kind of blackmail." ( 229K AIFF sound or 229K WAV sound)
Clinton pledged to protect Medicare, Medicaid, the environment, education and technology during the coming budget fight, and reiterated his support for a balanced budget -- just not on Republican terms.
Gingrich and Dole countered that Clinton had no plan for balancing the budget, and that continuing the president's policies would result in deeper debt.
"Since President Clinton spoke only an hour ago, the national debt has increased by more than $20 million," Dole said. "... America cannot afford to continue on this destructive course."
But while the two GOP leaders presented a unified front less than 12 hours after both houses had passed this major portion of their Republican revolution, there were signs that they faced further difficulties from within their own party.
Besides complaints from Gramm, another Republican presidential contender spoke out against the budget plan. In the soon-to-be primary states Iowa and New Hampshire, Pat Buchanan ran radio ads asking "before we cut Medicare for senior citizens, why don't we cancel the $50 billion bailout for Mexico?"
The Republican plan to drastically reduce government is barreling ahead -- but the road has some Republican potholes as well as Democratic roadblocks.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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