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Budget Battle Wages On

There's a significant breakthrough, but not a done deal, on the six-week overdue U.S. federal budget. President Clinton and Republican Congressional leaders Thursday split the difference on one of the president's main agenda priorities: money to hire 100,000 new teachers.

But now comes the hard part, reports CBS News Chief White House correspondent John Roberts: tying up the budget's many loose ends.

Even as he paid tribute to America's fallen heroes of war, President Clinton was fighting the budget battle. He urged Congress to come up with the money to fund his foreign policy agenda -- from nuclear disarmament in Russia to aid for fledgling democracies.

"All of you know, better than most, that freedom is not free," said Mr. Clinton. "And all of you know, far better than most, that the costliest peace is far cheaper than the cheapest war."

With few exceptions, the president has been able to declare victory in the budget negotiations. In a hastily arranged Oval Office event Thursday afternoon, Mr. Clinton trumpeted a deal with Republicans on his plan to reduce class sizes in grades one through three.

"Last night, after many days and hours of discussion, Congress agreed to continue our efforts to hire 100,000 new highly qualified teachers," he said.

President Clinton lays a wreath at a Veteran's Day ceremony.
The GOP won a concession from the president on teachers, agreeing to give schools increased flexibility on how money for teachers is spent.

"That part of the deal is, I think, the really, really good news of the day," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, "and I want to just say, hooray for the kids."

The president and Republican leaders also reached agreement on funding to put 50,000 new police officers on the streets.

The White House believes the budget deals could be wrapped up by the middle of next week.

But there are still contentious issues to work out, such as Republican plans to expand logging rights in national forests and whether Congress will pay up America's back dues at the U.N. Republicans say they won't repay the U.N. without assurances of internal bureaucratic reform.

The president, meanwhile, wants language banning funds for international programs that support family planning organizations removed from the budget bill.

Also unresolved, is how to pay for increased spending without touching the Social Security surplus. The White House conceded Thursday that Mr. Clinton's hope for a 55-cent-a-pack tobacco tax to offset spending has gone up in smoke.