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Budget Standoff

House GOP drafts plan
to pay federal workers

Leaders make little progress in ending shutdown

January 5, 1996
Web posted at: 1:20 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the 20th day of the partial government shutdown, rank-and-file House Republicans forced Speaker Newt Gingrich and other party leaders to piece together a new plan Thursday night to resume some government operations and put workers back on the job.

The plan would also restore the government to full operation -- but only if President Clinton submits a seven-year balanced budget plan based on congressional economic projections.

Gingrich

The measure, hashed out during a GOP conference meeting, would return all 280,000 furloughed federal workers to their jobs, and resume pay for the 480,000 workers who have been working without wages since the partial shutdown began. The plan would expire January 26.

A similar plan presented by Gingrich and other leaders in the House Republican hierarchy sought to restore the workers' jobs through March 15, but it failed to gain sufficient support in the closed-door meeting.

Citing their disappointment with President Clinton for not producing a balanced budget plan, Gingrich described how the GOP has worked all day to come up with a solution that not only produces a balanced budget, but puts federal employees back to work, "because we're all concerned about the federal employees, because they shouldn't be in the middle."

The proposed measure would finance a handful of programs in the nine Cabinet departments and dozens of other agencies whose spending bills have not been completed. The bills include funds to administer unemployment benefits, for foster care and adoption help, to keep national parks and museums open, for many veterans benefits, and for Meals on Wheels, which provides dinners for needy senior citizens.

The majority of programs would not receive funds, however, which could leave many of the workers with lots of time on their hands.

The measure will come to a vote on Friday, and House leaders predicted that it would pass. "I expect to receive overwhelming support on the floor tomorrow," said House Rules Committee Chairman Gerald Solomon, R-New York.

Earlier Thursday, Republicans canceled a scheduled meeting between Clinton, Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. The White House speculated that it was because the Republicans needed to settle differences among themselves on their plan.

GOP puts blame for shutdown on Clinton

Earlier Thursday, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees went to the White House for a brief meeting with Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, then returned to Capitol Hill and launched a broadside against Clinton, who the day before had charged Republicans with engaging in a "cynical political strategy."

Domenici

"It is a cynical strategy because never, to this day, while blaming Republicans for all kinds of things, has the president of the United States had to put a balanced budget on the table," said Budget Chairman Sen. Pete Domenici. (245K AIFF sound or 245K WAV sound)

White House officials say that both sides have worked with a blackboard during their talks, highlighting the most politically sensitive issues on which the two sides remain deeply divided. They include: the extent of a tax cut; proposed savings in Medicare and Medicaid; and spending cuts in education, the environmental protection, technology investment, child welfare, and other programs close to the president's heart.


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