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Budget negotiations on hold for a week

Temporary measure to fund veterans, poor families

December 23, 1995
Web posted at: 1:40 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Wolf Blitzer and wire service reports

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton used his weekly radio address Saturday to try to assure his constituents that the budget stalemate that has shut down the government for a record eight days will soon be resolved.

"It's important to balance the budget to lift the burden of debt from future generations," he said. "But we have to balance the budget in a way that reflects our most fundamental values."

In the Republican response to the president's speech, Rep. Ron Lewis of Kentucky said that the GOP wants only for the president "to negotiate in good faith on a seven-year balanced budget using projections of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office."

Amid a few signs of progress Friday, Clinton and the Republican Congressional leadership put their budget negotiations on hold for a week -- leaving the government still partially shut down.

Clinton met with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority leader Bob Dole and other congressional leaders, but failed to resolve the budget impasse or to end the week-long partial government shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history.

the big three

Still, the leaders said they were making progress, and there were signs of it Friday.

The Senate unanimously passed a measure allowing 260,000 furloughed federal employees to return to work next week. The measure would designate all workers essential, and they would be paid later. But this would still mean that agencies would be unable to spend money for other purposes, such as providing aid to state and local governments for various programs.

The House may consider the measure next week.

There was also an unexpected Christmas treat for veterans and poor families. Congress passed a short-term bill, effective through January 3, to fund veterans' benefits and welfare assistance to the nation's poorest children. The measure was quickly signed into law by Clinton.

With 260,000 federal employees from nine agencies idling, each day of the partial shutdown is estimated to cost the government about $40 million.

"Obviously, a lot of the biggest issues remain," said Clinton. "But the process seems to be working and I'm encouraged, and I want to continue to do it until we reach agreement on a balanced budget. That's what I think clearly we all want." (123K AIFF sound or 123K WAV sound)

"We had a good session," said Dole. "It was very positive. I felt we wanted to get something done and discussed some very difficult issues."


There were even some conciliatory statements from those who have been the most outspoken.

House Majority leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, said a "healthy rapport" was being established between the two sides. "I have just come back from the White House where I can say to my colleagues that things are going well," he said. (128K AIFF sound or 128K WAV sound)


Still, some House Republicans are continuing to promise they'll never back away from their bottom-line demand: a seven-year balanced-budget plan.

"As Winston Churchill said we will never, never, never, never give in. We will stay here till doomsday," Rep. Robert Livingston, R-Louisiana. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)

It's that kind of talk that has infuriated the president and his aides, prompting them to suggest that a minority in the House is forcing the speaker's hand.

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