GOP, White House bargain as a new deadline nears More social spending offered in exchange for deficit-cutting deal

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- With the temporary spending authority for scores of federal agencies scheduled to expire next week, Republicans in Congress offered yesterday to pass a budget for the rest of the 1996 fiscal year and to increase spending on social programs by $4.5 billion -- if the White House would agree to a deficit-cutting deal.

But the administration continued to press for an additional $8 billion in spending and none of the political strings that Republicans wanted. President Clinton and several of his senior Cabinet members spent the day arguing this case before an array of audiences.


"Join with me in saying to the Congress, 'You're back in town. We've got to stop government by continuing resolution,' " Mr. Clinton said in a speech to the National Association of Counties in Washington.

The most recent continuing resolution expires March 15.


For months, congressional Republicans followed a strategy in which the threat of a shutdown of the federal government put pressure on Mr. Clinton to accept their balanced budget plan. But a majority of the public blamed the GOP and not the president for two partial shutdowns of the government. Then the Republicans tried to link unrelated legislation to the temporary spending bills.

There have been nine continuing resolutions to keep money flowing to departments and programs without permanent budgets.

Facing the new deadline, the Republicans returned to Washington this week with yet another plan: sweetening their offer by billion for social programs, but only if Mr. Clinton agreed to sign off on some plan to make cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

But Leon E. Panetta, the White House chief of staff, described that idea as "a big question mark," saying on Capitol Hill yesterday that Mr. Clinton "without question" would veto legislation that did not have enough money for social, education and environmental programs.

Mr. Panetta spent much of the afternoon discussing the budget with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Bob Dole, the majority leader.

Pub Date: 3/06/96