Anti-Shutdown Spat Continues

Senate Republicans continued to negotiate on Tuesday with the White House and Senate Democratic leaders over the possibility of separating a proposed "automatic" continuing resolution from the fiscal 1997 emergency supplemental bill.

Senate GOP leaders remained adamant about passing the CR proposal this week -- but cautiously danced around the question of whether the automatic CR would have to be attached to the supplemental spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said GOP leaders "feel very strongly" that an automatic CR should be approved to avoid a government shutdown if any or all of the 13 annual appropriations bills are not completed and approved in time. One way or the other, Lott said, "I think we'll ... get the CR done and the supplemental done by the end of this week." Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said a deal to remove the automatic CR language from the supplemental would make him "happy."

In the House, a spokeswoman for Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., said he "is still very much against putting [the CR provision] on the disaster aid bill -- that has not changed. His feeling has always been to let the Senate go first and see how it goes. If Senate passed it, he would consider it in conference -- he would defer to the leadership in conference."

House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, has said that, in conference, House leaders would support the CR provision even if it were not in the House supplemental bill. Today Armey told reporters that if it were dropped from the Senate supplemental, House leaders "would have to look at the situation anew." While Armey said enacting the automatic CR as part of the supplemental would be "the quickest way" to get it done, he acknowledged that it is "not necessarily the only way."

Senate Commerce Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., who introduced the emergency CR legislation with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, said the two sides are negotiating the level of funding for the CR and whether the levels would be consistent with the FY98 figures used in the balanced budget agreement.

McCain and Lott were scheduled to meet with White House aides Tuesday afternoon to try to work out an agreement on how to get both the supplemental package and the CR passed this week. Democratic aides, meanwhile, accused Republicans of breaking a promise to drop the automatic CR from the emergency supplemental package.

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