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Day 16: Still no budget agreement

White House meeting

Both sides will meet again Tuesday

December 31, 1995
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A record 16-day federal budget impasse continued Sunday with no concrete agreement, though both sides pledged to meet again Tuesday after a New Year's Day break.

Gingrich, Clinton & Dole

Sunday marked the third straight day of White House negotiations between President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders. Officials on both sides said they virtually finished their initial budget analysis of issues such as income support, welfare, taxes and health care financing, but did not bridge their central differences over Medicare and Medicaid.

When asked how close to an overall budget agreement the two sides are, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said, "They could be so near or so far away because it will depend in part on what types of trade-offs they make on the large issues. They have not attempted to take the big issues ... and reconcile them."

McCurry confirmed that negotiators have reached some initial agreements on savings on less controversial programs. Though he would not say which programs, McCurry said reports of an estimated $100 billion in savings are not accurate. In Tuesday's meeting, leaders will take on the more contentious issues.

Tony Blankley

Clinton was sounding optimistic after Sunday's talks. As he left the White House for South Carolina, he said a balanced budget deal "absolutely" could be reached.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich's spokesman, Tony Blankley, said negotiations could soon move more quickly. "The careful, methodical discussions they've had over the last few days -- so that there's a good understanding on both sides of the details and implications of the issues -- position the negotiators now to be fairly swift in making decisions should they choose to do so on Tuesday," he said. (213K AIFF sound or 213K WAV sound)

GOP nixes deal redefining 'essential'

While budget negotiations continued, congressional staffers separately discussed how to get furloughed federal government employees back to the job.

Newt Gingrich

Before Sunday's meeting, Gingrich said that was a priority. "We're trying to work out how to get the federal employees back to work. We'd also like to get them paid, but as the president said, most of our success is that we've been in this room talking and not getting involved in negotiating in public. And we've made a lot of progress," Gingrich said. "I feel very good about it." (196K AIFF sound or 196K WAV sound)

McCurry said the president also wants to get federal workers back as soon as possible, with pay.

Bob Dole

Senate Democrats had worked out a deal Sunday with Senate Republican leader Bob Dole that could have gotten workers back on the job. However, House Republicans opposed the proposal, which would have set new limits on debate of a final balanced budget deal, so Dole withdrew it.

Under the measure, the Senate would have passed legislation that would declare all federal workers exempt, or essential, allowing them to return to their jobs. They would not be paid, but the resolution would promise to pay them when funding was made available.

House Republicans would like a balanced budget deal by Wednesday, when this session of Congress ends. While White House officials said they are not working under that deadline, they are aware that Republicans are pushing for it.

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