Tags: Bush | Announces | Budget | Deal

Bush Announces Budget Deal

Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM

"There is a budget deal," Bush told reporters. "It's an agreement that makes a lot of sense."

Bush called the agreement "good budget politics" by lawmakers "who realize it was time to come together."

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that spending growth would be capped at 4.9 percent for discretionary social spending.

What is not clear is whether the deal was struck between the House and Senate Republicans, who have passed different budgets and need to reconcile them, or between the White House and Democrat moderates who represent the swing votes needed to get the final bill through.

The figure is likely to cause problems for conservative members of the GOP who previously called for a spending cap of 4 percent or less. But with the agreement endorsed by the House and Senate Republican leadership, the troops appear unlikely to wage war against their own party over a mostly symbolic vote on the budget.

The challenge facing Bush is keeping congressional appropriators - led in the Senate by Alaska Republican Ted Stevens and West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd - from ignoring the budget guidelines in creating their own spending appropriations bills. Bush has vowed to veto any spending bills he considers extravagant, but it could be hard to battle two of the most powerful senators over how they spend money.

Two Senate Democrats that worked to help develop the deal, which has not been endorsed by the Democrat leadership, were Louisiana's Sen. John Breaux and New Jersey's Sen. Bob Torricelli. They did not exactly endorse the figures but seemed resigned to the ultimate success of the president's budget outline.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters that the 4.9 percent cap would not fly with his party because the plan cut taxes more than he wanted and raised spending less than he wanted.

"Well, it's unrealistic because once again it provides for a significant imbalance between what the president has proposed in taxes and what he has proposed in commitments on investment and education," Daschle said. "Just the figures that I think are as stark as they can be, are somewhere in the $3 billion increase in education commitment and a $69 billion tax cut commitment."

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Breaux was coy about whether the deal meant that the fight over budget levels was over, or merely delayed until later discussion on the Senate floor.

"We need to see the final numbers on the spending," Breaux said, despite the reported agreement at roughly 5 percent annual increases.

Breaux said he was "concerned" that the proposed spending increase was low enough that Congress would simply break the caps and scramble budget projections through the appropriations process.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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There is a budget deal, Bush told reporters. It's an agreement that makes a lot of sense. Bush called the agreement good budget politics by lawmakers who realize it was time to come together. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that spending growth...
Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM
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