Refusing to bend in a test of wills, President Bill Clinton
threatened anew Thursday to veto the latest Republican offer to end
a three-day partial government shutdown. Clinton said he was
ordering the recall of furloughed workers to process claims for
Social Security and veterans benefits.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., rebutted: "He doesn't
want a balanced budget. . . . That's the issue."
With the two sides seemingly at gridlock, Democrats gibed House
Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., for claiming that Clinton had snubbed
him recently aboard Air Force One and that Gingrich had toughened
his stance on the budget as a result.
Several lawmakers trooped to the House floor with oversized
copies of the front page of Thursday's New York Daily News. It bore
a huge headline of "Cry Baby" and a cartoon depicting Gingrich in a
diaper, holding a baby bottle and throwing a tantrum.
At three days, the partial shutdown was the longest ever
arising from one of the nation's periodic budget wars. Barring an
unexpected concession, it seemed likely to stretch into next week.
Republicans are hoping to pass a separate measure containing
their balanced budget plan by the weekend. Clinton has threatened
to reject it, as well, and Republicans and Democrats alike said
they doubted whether serious compromise talks would begin until
that veto had been cast.
The Republican leaders repeatedly expressed a willingness to
reopen talks with Clinton on ending the impasse, which has forced
huge sections of the government to remain closed since Tuesday and
disrupted normal treasury borrowing.
At the same time, the GOP-controlled Senate ignored Clinton's
veto threat. It labored to pass a bill that would reopen the entire
government through Dec. 5 on the condition that Clinton agree to
work out a seven-year balanced budget, based on Congressional
Budget Office economic assumptions. The White House prefers
projections by its Office of Management and Budget.
The House approved the measure early Thursday, 277-151, with 48
Democrats in favor, just 12 votes shy of the two-thirds majority
needed for a veto override.
With the GOP insisting on a seven-year time frame, both sides
were dskirting the key issue of economic assumptions - estimates of
growth, joblessness and inflation that have a major impact on
government spending and revenue estimates.
Clinton said that signing the GOP legislation would be
tantamount to accepting GOP plans for "crippling cuts in Medicare"
and unacceptable reductions in Medicaid, education and
"Congress should act responsibly and pass straightforward
legislation to open the government and enable it to meet its
financial obligations," he said. "It should do it right now.
"The American people should not be held hostage any more to the
Republican budget priorities," said Clinton, repeating a veto
threat he first made Wednesday night. …