OMB chief says White House won't force shutdown over budget issues

In an interview with a small group of reporters Monday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said President Bush would prod Congress to pass fiscal 2002 Defense and Labor-HHS spending bills early in the appropriations process, indicating Bush might use the veto pen to send back other fiscal 2002 appropriations bills that get to the White House too soon. With the possibility that such a potentially confrontational strategy could create a budget "train wreck," Daniels insisted that the President would not force another government shutdown. He noted that Bush as a candidate had pushed for an "automatic" continuing resolution. And Daniels complimented Congress on its work so far, saying lawmakers had kept the spending bills "moving in line" with the overall budget resolution limit and avoiding the "chaos and excess" of previous years. Daniels also struck a conciliatory tone in discussing Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who has jousted repeatedly in recent weeks with Bush economic advisers over the ramifications of the Bush tax cut. Daniels called Conrad an "effective chairman," who "is an advocate of fiscal discipline." He said Conrad has "been plain-spoken that he's not for a tax increase, which some in his party are." Conrad has objected to statements that portray him as an advocate of raising taxes, which he said he does not support doing this year. Daniels nevertheless noted that Conrad has "a different set of priorities" than the administration.
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