Republicans blame the president for demanding as much as $9 billion above spending caps agreed upon in last year's balanced budget deal for new government programs. To meet that demand, Republicans asserted, Congress would have to dip into the budget surplus that Clinton himself had roped off until a long-term fix is agreed to for the Social Security system.
"These are things that can be settled," insisted House Republican Leader Dick Armey of Texas. "But when it comes right down to it, it comes down to money."
Clinton 'disengaged all year'
Behind it all loomed the specter of the president's sex scandal. House Republican Whip Tom DeLay charged that the budget pTC stalemate was caused, at least in part, by a distracted "do-nothing president" who has been "disengaged all year." The president, DeLay complained, has yet to meet at the White House with the Republican congressional leadership this year.
"We worked hard all year," agreed Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the fourth-ranking House Republican. "It would have been nice if the president was here working with us."
Clinton vetoed a $60 billion agriculture spending bill this week, saying it short-changed a farm disaster-relief package. But nearly all the spending bills that make up the federal government's $1.7 trillion budget have yet to reach the White House.
With some of the bills, House Republicans could not agree with Senate Republicans on key provisions. On others, a fractious Republican majority could not push bills through either the House or the Senate.
Indeed, Congress will leave Washington this month without having passed a nonbinding budget blueprint for the first time since passage of the 1973 budget act.
Normally, the budget blueprint guides the appropriators by shaping the broad framework for each spending bill. But Republicans could not reach agreement among themselves over the size of a broad tax cut.
Pub Date: 10/10/98