December 14, 1995
Web posted at: 1:20 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Bob Franken
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A small group of leaders from both the GOP and the White House will try and make what they hope is their final push toward settling the massive budget confrontation before Christmas. The new round of intensive negotiations was set to begin Friday.
On Wednesday, however, the two sides kept their distances. As the deadline for an agreement to avoid another government shutdown lurched closer, Congressional Democrats met with Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, while Republicans met among themselves.
Republicans had their own agreements to reach. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole wants a new week-long temporary spending authorization, but House Republicans want to forego such a measure in order to keep the pressure on.
"I do not believe you'll see us having any long continuing resolutions between now and the final completion of the balanced budget," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "but you could easily see us having a series of very short resolutions." (119K AIFF sound or 119K WAV sound)
White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Gingrich's approach is unproductive. "That's a silly idea ... Let's have a rolling crisis every 24 or 48 hours," he said. (196K AIFF sound or 196K WAV sound)
But while a partial government shutdown would still close federal tourist attractions, this time it would affect less than half as many federal workers as the last time. Congress has passed several spending bills covering numerous agencies with hundreds of thousands of employees.
There is still plenty to bicker about. In a rough analysis released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the White House budget plan would leave the government $115 billion in the red at the end of the seven-year deadline. "Well, we have a plan that balances the budget and they have a plan that is hundreds of billions of dollars short of balancing the budget," said House Budget Chairman John Kasich.
Democratic leaders said the numbers matter less than philosophy. "We have to see the Republican responses to how they deal with what is a very crucial part of our agreement. How do they deal with the priorities we care about: Medicare, Medicaid, education, environment," Panetta said.
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