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Budget Vote Put Off

After voting to approve a $500 billion budget deal, the 105th Congress will finally be able to head home.

Sources told CBS News Friday morning that Congress would probably have a final vote on the huge package Mondayor Tuesday, the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, which had become an ideological battleground between the parties, must still be passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the president. Despite some grumbling about programs put in or taken out, quick passage was likely.

In an appearance at the White House this morning, President Clinton hailed the budget agreement as a Democratic achievement, focusing on outlays for education and Internet improvements.

With the November elections just weeks away, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are taking credit for the bill's successes. Democrats won approval of a $1.1 billion plan, sought by Clinton, to hire 100,000 more elementary school teachers. Republicans took credit for new money to fight illegal drugs and boost military readiness.

President Clinton interrupted a White House conference Thursday on school violence to say, "I got a call that we just concluded our agreement on the budget." The audience in the East Room applauded.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, speaking at a Capitol Hill gathering of Republican leaders, said, "We have a package that is good for America."

"We believe this is a bill that is going to get overwhelming support in the House and Senate," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The announcement of the deal came after more than a week of round-the-clock negotiations that often seemed to be on the verge of concluding but were prolonged by standoffs on dozens of sometimes minor, sometimes significant differences.

Among the sticking points that occupied the chief negotiators were whether statistical sampling would be used in the year 2000 Census, whether federal health care plans should cover prescription contraceptives and funding the International Monetary Fund.

The final bill, which is expected to be thousands of pages long, covers some one-third of the budget for federal agencies in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Among the bill's other highlights:

  • A provision for $6 billion in disaster aid for the nation's farmers. The final figure was well above the $4.2 billion offered by Republicans in a spending bill the president vetoed, but down from the $7.3 billion sought by Democrats.
  • A decision to postpone, until after a probable Supreme Court ruling, a vote on the use of so-called statistical sampling in the 2000 census. Democrats have not signed off on that agreement.
  • A compromise on a Democratic-backed plan to require health care providers to cover most prescription contraceptives for federal workers. At the insistence of anti-abortion Republicans, a deal was worked out that would allow individual doctors to opt out of the plans if they have moral or religious obections, he said.
  • The Clinton administration got $18 billion to replenish International Monetary Fund credit, but with the GOP conditions that the IMF take steps to make its operations more open and effective.
Details also were being worked out on a $20 billion emergency-spending package that included the agriculture aid, money for disaster victims, peacekeeping in Bosnia, the year 2000 computer problem and, at the urging of Republicans, $9.7 billion for military readiness, a national defense system and intelligence.
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