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Clinton Pushes For Budget Bill

Before taking off on a shortened fundraising trip to New York Monday, CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante reports that President Clinton worked feverishly with leaders from both parties on the budget bill.

Mr. Clinton cancelled the bulk of a two-day Democratic fundraising trip in order to encourage his negotiators and suggest that Republicans have their priorities wrong.

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"While Columbus Day is a day off for many Americans, here at the White House we have been working hard with the leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill to write a budget to strengthen our nation for the 21st century," Mr. Clinton told reporters Monday afternoon.

White House Chief of Staff Erskine told the president that while the two sides were working through their differences, one Democratic demand in particular -- education -- seemed to be a sticking point.

"I know there is an election coming...but congressmen can go home to campaign knowing they put progress ahead of partisanship on the important issue of education," Mr. Clinton said.

The president wants close to $6 billion to build new schools and hire more teachers.

Earlier, Mr. Clinton criticized Congress for failing to take up other programs that he wanted, such as reforms for Social Security and the nation's health care system.

The White House and Congress are still arguing over 8 of the 13 spending bills, almost two weeks after the new fiscal year began, and last year's money ran out.

A resolution to keep the government operating expires Monday at midnight, and the president hastened to assure legislators that he would sign another rather than let the government shut down as it did in 1995.

"We're not going to shut the government down if we're working on this. No one is interested in doing that. I just want to get this job done," the president said.

White House tacticians are expected to continue to accuse Republicans of shortchanging the voters in the budget. It is part of a strategy to suggest that Congress should focus on the public's desires rather than investigating the president.

Clinton's arguments echoed those of congressional Democrats, who accused Republicans of handling an impeachment inquiry in a partisan manner and milking it for possible implications on the Nov. 3 midterm elections.

Democrats are hoping for a voter backlash against the Republican impeachment inquiry, since polls continue to suggest that most voters just want the whole scandal to disappear.

Most Americans approve of President Clinton's job performance, even though he covered up sexual liaisons with former White House inern Monica Lewinsky.

Mr. Clinton reduced a day of campaigning in New York to a pair of speeches at two receptions Monday night for Democratic senatorial candidate Charles Schumer.

He canceled appearances in Miami on Tuesday that were bringing in $1.2 million for the Democratic National Committee; Vice President Al Gore will go instead.

Reported by Russ Mitchell

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