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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

About $53 billion would come from raising the premiums paid by Medicare beneficiaries for the Part B portion, which covers bills from doctors and labs.

In effect, the increase would result from the Republicans acting to freeze at 31.5 percent the current percentage of premiums paid by beneficiaries instead of allowing them to drop to 25 percent as they would under current law.

GOP leaders want to put this change into law as quickly as possible so the premium increase will take effect in January instead of later in the spring -- and closer to next fall's congressional elections.

Mr. Clinton initially seized on this Medicare premium increase as the main reason for threatening to veto the stopgap spending bill. But yesterday, after Sen. Pete V. Domenici, a New Mexico Republican and close ally of Senate Majority Leader Dole, proposed freezing premiums at their current levels, White House press secretary Mike McCurry called it "an interesting idea, but it has nothing to do with resolving the current crisis."

Despite the vetoes, it seemed unlikely that a shutdown would have a dire impact, at least in the short run.

The government's ability to borrow money technically expires tomorrow.

But Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has already taken steps to raise cash and prevent a first-ever federal default, which could cause financial tumult.

In part, Mr. Clinton vetoed the bill raising the debt ceiling and extending the government's borrowing authority to preserve the administration's ability to juggle accounts in that fashion.

For most Americans, the government shutdown will hardly be visible.

The percentage of furloughed workers varies widely from agency to agency, ranging from 99 percent at the National Archives to 19 percent at the Department of Transportation.

Mail will be delivered; air traffic controllers will keep planes flying; government hospitals will remain open; taxes will be collected; and prison guards, law enforcement personnel and the military will be on duty.

Social Security checks will go out (though not until Dec. 3, the next scheduled delivery date).

Estimated civilian furloughs

Here are the revised estimates by the Office of Management and Budget of how many civilian employees would be furloughed tomorrow.

Agency.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Number .. .. .. .. .. ..Percent of

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .furloughed .. .. .. ..civilian staff

Agriculture .. .. .. .. .. .. ...0 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..0.0%

Commerce .. .. .. .. .. .. .25,100 .. .. .. .. .. .. .66.5%

Defense .. .. .. .. .. .. .258,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...31%

Education .. .. .. .. .. .. .4,400 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...89%

Energy .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..0 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..0.0%

Health & Human Services .. .34,600 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 58%

Housing & Urban

Development .. .. .. .. .. .11,800 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...99%

Interior .. .. .. .. .. .. .57,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. . .72%

Justice .. .. .. .. .. .. ..27,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...27%

Labor .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .13,200 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...75%

State (within U.S.) .. .. ...6,300 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...81%

State (abroad) .. .. .. .. ..1,700 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .9%

Transportation .. .. .. .. .18,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...19%

Treasury .. .. .. .. .. ...124,500 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...83%

Veterans Affairs .. .. .. ..36,400 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...15%

EPA .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...17,700 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...96%

General Services .. .. .. ..13,300 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...79%

NASA .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..19,800 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...93%

Office of Personnel

Management .. .. .. .. .. ...2,100 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...47%

Small Business

Administration .. .. .. .. ..3,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...59%

Social Security

Administration .. .. .. .. .61,400 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...93%

National Archives .. .. .. ..2,400 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...99%

White House core staff .. .. ..357 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...89%

White House agencies .. .. ..1,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...82%

Other (1) .. .. .. .. .. ...61,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...42%

Total estimate .. .. .. ...800,000 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...42%

There are no furloughs at the Agriculture Department (its FY1996 appropriation bill became law) or the Energy Department (its payroll was prefunded through December).

(1) Other includes many small, independent or intelligence agencies, District of Columbia government, the courts and Congress.

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