WASHINGTON — On the brink of next week’s elections, President Clinton accused Republicans on Tuesday of blowing up a budget deal on schools and other social programs because of "excessive sensitivity to the special interests."
GOP leaders downplayed their remaining differences with Clinton, insisting they were solvable. But they fired back that when Clinton vetoed a bill Monday night financing Congress’ operations and opening the door for a $3,800 pay raise for lawmakers, he seemed to be seeking a replay of the budget clashes that produced federal shutdowns in 1995 and 1996.
"Up my way, we follow mileposts," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a budget bargainer. "And I can read mileposts very well. And I’m telling you that mileposts from 1995 and the milepost from the year 2000 look identical to me as I’m going down this trail."
Amid the heightened political tensions, there was little or no bargaining on the two sides’ budget differences. And it was clear that Congress would almost certainly have to adjourn for the final days of the campaign season and return sometime afterward for a rare lame-duck session.
Officials from both parties said there had been quiet discussions regarding a temporary spending bill that would let Congress adjourn for the elections and return later to wrap up unfinished business.
A month after the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2001, lawmakers still faced disputes over workplace safety, immigration, Medicare reimbursements for health care providers and various tax cuts.
The House on Tuesday voted 361-13 and the Senate voted by voice to keep the government running another 24 hours while negotiations continue. It was the 11th such stopgap measure since Oct. 1.
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