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Clinton vetoes latest spending bill

White House, GOP move toward
restarting stalled budget talks

Clinton signing veto

December 19, 1995
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton vetoed a $27.3 billion spending bill Tuesday as the White House and congressional Republicans moved tentatively toward resuming budget talks on the fourth day of the latest partial government shutdown.

Clinton said he vetoed the spending bill, which would have funded the State, Justice and Commerce departments, because it would have removed money earmarked for 100,000 more police officers, and would "turn back the clock" on his administration's efforts to fight crime.

It was his third spending bill veto in two days and the ninth veto of his presidency.

"There is no value more basic than keeping our children safe. Unfortunately, the bill that the Congress passed to fund the Justice, Commerce and State departments fails to fulfill that fundamental obligation," Clinton said as he rejected the bill.

However, Republicans said their bill, by imposing fewer restrictions on how local governments spend federal law enforcement money, would result in more police officers than Clinton's program.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-Louisiana, said the veto threatens the jobs of tens of thousands of federal workers. "To veto these bills a few days before Christmas so these people are uncertain about their futures, strikes me as an inability to govern," he said.

Clinton's veto came barely 30 minutes before he was scheduled to meet with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. Clinton aides were holding out little hope for a breakthrough.

On Monday, Clinton told Gingrich and Dole that he would personally participate in the talks if the GOP agreed to restart talks with no preconditions.

Dole reacted positively. "It is time the principals become involved," he said. "It's time for adult leadership."

Dole and Gingrich

He and Gingrich accepted Clinton's offer, saying they viewed the meeting not as a bargaining session but as a chance for them to discuss "the importance of getting a balanced budget agreement this year, and how we might achieve that goal."

But Tuesday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said he was pessimistic that the talks would yield an agreement unless Clinton showed willingness to compromise.

"It's going to be a very difficult discussion ... as long as the president remains so inflexible and rigid and so unwilling to get down to the hard work that's required to get to a balanced budget," Armey said on "CBS This Morning."

Meanwhile, a task force of House and Senate Democrats and White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta met for a fourth consecutive day Tuesday in hopes of developing a balanced budget proposal.

As the two sides treaded gingerly toward restarting negotiations, the government's partial shutdown was in its fourth day, causing the idling of 250,000 workers.

The stock market suffered its biggest one-day loss in four years Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 100 points. The drop was blamed on the expectation that Federal Reserve policy-makers would not decide to cut interest rates because of the budget impasse. Tuesday the market opened uncertainly, but it shot up higher in the afternoon after the Federal Reserve surprised observers by deciding to cut interest rates anyway.

On Monday, Clinton rejected GOP legislation financing the Interior Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the nation's space agency.

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