Clinton, Congress collide on federal budget


WASHINGTON, Reuters

A blowup over the federal budget on Tuesday put President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress on course to end their bitter relationship with a postelection session of Congress that lawmakers from both parties say may be ugly. The morning after he angered Republicans by vetoing a US$33 billion bill to fund the Treasury Department and a number of other operations including the White House and Congress, Clinton urged lawmakers to resume talks to finish the month-overdue budget before next Tuesday’s election to avoid bringing Congress back for a lame duck session. “It’s the American people who sent us here, and it’s our obligation to meet their priorities, so let’s roll up our sleeves, get back to work and finish the work we were sent here to do,” Clinton said. But Republicans cited a “poisoned” atmosphere, and some said they would rather wait until after the election when they hope Texas Gov. George W. Bush will be chosen president and they will be dealing with a weakened Clinton. After the election, “you take the pressure of politics away from it and you come together rather quickly,” House Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas said. But top Republicans said they had not yet decided whether to pursue a lame duck session, which some see as a messy, undignified exit strategy that leaves them vulnerable to the “do-nothing” label Democrats have tried to hang on them. “The relationship has been so poisoned by this veto it will be a long time to bring back the trust,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said. The Alaskan Republican said work will continue to try to pass the budget and adjourn the 106th Congress this week. But he said Clinton appeared bent on engineering a federal shutdown in an effort to hurt Republicans in elections.