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White House wants Congress to get back to work

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said Wednesday the Republican-led Congress should get back to work early next month to complete the overdue budget, dismissing suggestions that the contested presidential election would delay the lame-duck session.

White House spokesman Jake Siewert said President Clinton and Republican leaders got work done during the contentious 1998 impeachment scandal and should be able to do the same when Congress reconvenes Dec. 4-5.

"In the middle of some pretty serious wrangling, over whether the president should be removed from office or not, we were able to strike budget accords that funded the president's priorities on education, on health care, welfare to work, on the environment," Siewert told reporters.

"So I don't see any reason why we can't work together in a lame-duck session," he added. "It doesn't seem to me like that's an insurmountable task. We've certainly been through more difficult periods."

Last week, on the sidelines of an economic summit in Brunei, Clinton signed a bill to keep the government running until Dec. 5. It was necessary because Congress failed to complete work on the budget by the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1.

Siewert said the election fight between Democratic presidential hopeful Al Gore and Republican rival George W. Bush should have little impact on upcoming budget negotiations.

The spokesman said he also saw no need to delay next month's lame-duck session or to sign another temporary funding measure through the end of Clinton's term, which ends Jan. 20, when the new president takes office.

"I don't think there's any real reason to push this off until January," Siewert said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2000


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