Veto spurs partial shutdown President refuses to sign stopgap bill, blames GOP leaders

Last-minute effort fails

All federal workers told to report to job to learn of status: THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

November 14, 1995|By Karen Hosler and Carl M. Cannon | Karen Hosler and Carl M. Cannon,New York Times News ServiceSUN NATIONAL STAFF Sun staff writer John B. O'Donnell contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is headed for a partial shutdown today after President Clinton followed through last night on his threat and vetoed the stopgap spending bill needed to prevent federal agencies from running out of money.

The clash of spending priorities between the Democratic president and Congress, which has been building all year, escalated into a full-blown crisis as both sides struck an unyielding position and prepared for the fallout from at least a brief shutdown.

Moments before the midnight deadline for action on the measure arrived, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole emerged from nearly a two-hour meeting at the White House with Mr. Clinton and reported that no agreement had been reached in averting the shutdown.

Further meetings between Republican congressional leaders and White House officials were scheduled for today, but Democrats said they could see no immediate end to the impasse.

"There was no progress at all," said Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, who also attended the White House meeting.

With the shutdown scheduled to officially take effect about noon, all 2.1 million federal employees were instructed to report to their jobs as usual this morning. Some 800,000 workers deemed "nonessential" will be sent home unless an 11th-hour compromise is reached.

After the shutdown, no federal employees will be paid until legislation providing the spending authority is passed. Republican congressional leaders have promised that all federal workers eventually will be compensated whether or not they work during the shutdown.

Mr. Clinton, who also vetoed a measure yesterday that would extend the government's authority to borrow money, complained that GOP leaders were trying to force him to accept Republican budget priorities by tacking some of their initiatives to the emergency legislation.

"This is not the time or the place for them to backdoor their budget proposals," the president said. Mr. Clinton complained specifically about a GOP plan to raise Medicare premiums.

But he also referred to the broader Republican effort to balance the budget over seven years by shrinking, cutting or eliminating many federal programs he favors that relate to education, job training and the environment.

"If America must close down access to quality education, a clean environment and affordable health care for our seniors in order to keep the government open, then that price is too high," Mr. Clinton said in his veto message.

In their temporary spending bill, which would fund the government only until Dec. 1, the Republicans limited money for the agencies and programs they want to eliminate -- such as the Americorps volunteer service program -- to 60 percent of their current level.

These GOP priorities would "rob the American dream from millions of Americans," the president said.

For their part, the Republican leaders countered that the president's veto of the temporary bill was a sign that he lacks the basic commitment to a balanced budget.

"We are committed to a balanced budget that controls spending," said Mr. Gingrich, a Georgia Republican.

"We don't believe you can get to a balanced budget unless you are prepared to close some agencies, eliminate some of the bureaucracy, spend less on something."

Prospects for a way out of the crisis darkened yesterday afternoon when an attempt by some Republican senators to offer Mr. Clinton a compromise on the issue of Medicare premiums was rejected both by the White House and House Republicans.

In fact, there were signs that both Mr. Clinton and some GOP adversaries were encouraging a shutdown.

Each side seemed to believe that refusing to blink now would strengthen its position as it enters the larger battle over the seven-year balanced budget plan Congress plans to pass and send to the president later this week.

"We have to have an explosion before he will negotiate with us," Rep. John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said of Mr. Clinton.

At the White House, some aides have maintained that the president needed to show that he could adopt a tough stance and sustain it.

Mr. Clinton has often been a conciliator who has made many concessions toward GOP proposals, but his performance in this current battle situation reflects public opinion polls that show many Americans growing anxious about the sweep of the Republican belt-tightening proposals.

"As long as they insist on plunging ahead with a budget that violates our values I will fight it," Mr. Clinton declared in a speech at the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of moderate Democrats.

"I am fighting it today. I will fight it tomorrow. I will fight it until we get a budget that is fair to all Americans."

The White House refusal to accept a compromise on the Medicare premium seemed to support the belief that Mr. Clinton was not seeking a speedy resolution of the spending conflict.

As part of their seven-year budget plan, the Republicans have proposed to shrink Medicare by $270 billion.

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