Final details still remain in budget negotiations
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, October 13) -- Congressional Republicans say they are on the verge of striking a omnibus spending deal, though the White House cautions that significant differences remain.
After marathon talks Monday and Tuesday, negotiations are to resume Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill as the two sides seek to hammer out the last remaining details.
"We don't have a deal, we've made some progress," White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles told reporters as he left the Capitol Tuesday night. "I think we made good progress. We still have -- as far as we're concerned, the big issue is still open, and that is the 100,000 teachers." The teachers are to be funded by $1.1 billion in federal money, but the two sides disagree on whether the spending decisions will be local or federal.
So far negotiators have agreed on a number of major points, including more than $15 billion in emergency funding for agriculture, the Y2K computer problem and defense.
Most of the White House's demands have been tentatively agreed to, including $18 billion to fund the International Monetary Fund, and the $1.1 billion in added educational spending.
Republicans say the $15 billion in emergency spending will come out of the $70 billion federal surplus. The White House says none of the money will come from the surplus, arguing the surplus is only calculated after emergency funds are accounted for. The bottom line, however, is that every dollar spent reduces the surplus by a dollar.
To pay for some of the new spending, the White House presented Congress with $4.3 billion in offsetting spending cuts.
But even as negotiators came to agreement behind closed doors, the partisan attacks continued before the cameras.
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) blamed House Republicans for the late budget action. "The delay is caused by their failure to have done a budget, their failure to have done appropriations bills at the last minute," Gephardt said.
"As I've said many times, this is the worst Congress that's ever been in the building. They have not done their work and now they want to get everything done in one bill in the last five minutes and it's not a reasonable way to act; they've been very inept in the way they've run this Congress," Gephardt said.
Republicans criticized President Bill Clinton for traveling to New York for several Democratic fund-raisers during this critical time and for being unfairly characterizing the negotiations.
"I guess I'm a little disappointed in the president who says unless you're willing to do everything my way I will characterize you as being unwilling to do anything. Those are not the fair terms for debate. And quite frankly, Mr. President, you know better than that. You know how much our heart is in educating these children," House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said.
The president signed a third continuing resolution Monday night to keep the federal government running until Congress completes its budget work. This two-day measure keeps the cash flowing until midnight Wednesday.
Two previous stopgap measures have kept the government operating since the October 13 deadline when all 13 appropriations bills were supposed to be completed. The latest temporary money measure was flown to New York by White House Deputy Staff Secretary Sean Maloney for the president to sign.
Once a spending deal is finalized, Congress will leave Washington with a number of top priorities for both parties undone, including enacting an $80 billion tax cut, reforming managed health care, rewriting bankruptcy and campaign finance laws and crafting legislation to reduce teen smoking.
CNN's Jonathan Karl and Ann Curley contributed to this report.
Tuesday, October 13, 1998
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