December 18, 1995
Web posted at: 2:30 p.m. EST
From Senior White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the third day of a new partial government shutdown, some federal workers were being sent home and President Clinton vetoed Republican-passed spending bills covering several cabinet-level agencies. Clinton objects to provisions in the measures that include aspects of the Republican legislative platform The measures would have provided funding for the Veterans Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
A veto was expected later in the day on a bill covering the State, Justice and Commerce departments.
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta was meeting on Capitol Hill with Democrats in an effort to forge new seven-year budget proposals. Clinton said he planned to call House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole later Monday to discuss the budget impasse. At a breakfast fund-raiser in Richmond, Va., Gingrich blamed the partial shutdown on Clinton. "The bills are on his desk," Gingrich said. "The burden is on him."
Lacking a budget agreement, White House Budget Director Alice Rivlin ordered more than 260,000 federal workers -- about 13 percent of government employees -- to suspend operations. Last month's shutdown affected 800,000 employees. Those being furloughed Monday still had to show up for work in the morning but were to be sent home immediately.
These federal employees say the shutdown hurts non-government workers, too.
"It's just stupidity," said government worker Maureen Allen.
"I can balance my budget in a week. They ought to be able to do it themselves," complained Fred Bustillos, a National Park Service employee furloughed over the weekend.
The current shutdown began at midnight Friday, when Congress did not extend a temporary spending measure put in place after the last closure. "It's absolutely disgusting," Labor Department staffer Walter Martin said on the way into his office Monday morning. "There's a lot of work to be done that's not being done."
Before the last shutdown, congressional leaders and President Clinton promised that furloughed workers would be paid, and they were. But there have been no promises this time.
The administration has promised that Social Security and Medicare checks will be paid on time. However, if the second shutdown isn't over by Thursday morning, veterans' benefit checks for more than 3.3 million people would be delayed, said Ken McKinnon, spokesman for the Veterans' Affairs Department. The checks are supposed to be mailed December 29, but the department has neither the money nor the personnel to process them.
Passports also may not get processed, but as in November, postal service will not be affected and vital workers in public health and safety will stay on the job. The six-day closure that ended on November 19 was the longest in history and cost the government an estimated $750 million, more than half of it in retroactive salaries to workers who were sent home.
Sen. John Breaux, D-Louisiana, a member of the Finance Committee, predicted Monday the Senate would pass a temporary measure to keep the government in business through the end of the week while negotiators continue working. "I think it's real possible it'll happen today," he said. But it was not clear whether the House would approve such a measure.
Agencies and Departments Affected
Among programs that would have been killed by the bills Clinton vetoed Monday morning were his AmeriCorps community service program. The bills also contained environmental riders that critics say favor developers in the use of public lands. Clinton said the bills would undermine the nation's environment. The bills would have cut 21 percent from both the EPA and federal housing programs.
When the bills passed in the Senate last week, they did not win enough support to override a veto.
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