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Budget deadline looms again

December 15, 1995
Web posted at: 9:07 a.m. EST

Budget Battle

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's down to the wire again on the federal budget. Congress and the White House have less than a day to resolve their budget differences or pass an emergency spending bill to fund the government until a permanent solution is found.

The deadline is midnight. With no agreement, nearly 300,000 federal employees could be furloughed by Monday. During last month's budget impasse, 800,000 were temporarily laid off.

White House staff and Republican lawmakers were scheduled to meet Friday to present their latest plans to balance the budget.

White House chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Democratic congressional leaders were scheduled to meet with President Clinton Friday to finalize their plans. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said Thursday he is "ready to go to work" on the budget.

Republican leaders and the White House have already cleared two previous hurdles in budget negotiations. They are both aiming to balance the budget in seven years and have agreed to rely on economic projections provided by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO released numbers earlier this week indicating there was more money to work with than previously thought.

The key differences among the Democrats and the Republicans remain spending priorities and tax cut proposals.

Clinton has said he will not agree to a budget that cuts Medicare, Medicaid, education and environmental programs too deeply. He also favors a $98 billion tax cut for families.

The Republicans favor a $245 billion tax cut for families and businesses and a greater reduction in growth of social and environmental programs.


Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Thursday that Republicans need to shrink their tax cut if they want a balanced-budget deal. "The give has to be in the area of the tax cut," he said.

The White House has long insisted that the GOP package is too generous to rich Americans. Daschle said the administration is prepared to make its own tax cut even smaller as it seeks additional savings for a new budget offer.


"What they're trying to do is use the threat of a government shutdown to force me to accept their multi-year budget plan. That won't work." Clinton said Thursday in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "If (Republicans) shut down the government a hundred times, it still wouldn't force me to accept a seven-year-plan that I think will hurt America."

With any luck, there won't be a second round of furloughs. Budget negotiators on both sides have expressed optimism that a deal can be worked out.

Daschle said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, told him Republicans would present a new package with fewer reductions in social programs, which President Clinton considers important.

He provided no details about that plan and few on what the new Democratic proposal would contain. Domenici said bargaining would continue through the weekend, and expressed some hope that a budget deal could be struck before Christmas.

"My own view is that on the 22nd (of December), it looks like something is going to happen," said Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kansas.

A new continuing resolution would avert a partial government shutdown. But if no such measure is approved by midnight Friday the temporarily layoffs would begin. The full effect of the furloughs would not be felt until Monday when most workers are to return to work after the weekend.


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