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Saturday, 20 November, 1999, 03:27 GMT
Senate passes US budget
The budget awaits Bill Clinton's approval, when he returns from Greece

The US Senate has ended months of wrangling between President Bill Clinton and Republican members and the Senate and House of representatives.

The Republican-led Senate passed a $385bn spending bill that will complete the federal budget for the fiscal year 2000.

The bill was agreed by the House of Representatives on Thursday and now goes to the White House for Mr Clinton's approval.

The administration and Congress only reached a deal on the budget late on Wednesday.

It will mean across-the-board cuts of 0.38% in government spending.

Republicans were seeking a reduction of 1% in the budget.

Two weeks ago, President Clinton vetoed the Republicans' proposed 1% cut as "mindless and excessive".

Republicans wanted to use America's expected budget surpluses to reduce the tax burden on the average voter by 1% - the biggest tax relief in the US since 1981 - and give concessions to a number of businesses.

But Democrats argued that the plan would only benefit the rich.


"This budget is a victory, and a hard-won victory, for the American people," President Clinton told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday, where he was attending the European security summit.

"Both sides can be proud of this accord," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said at the close of 10 days of negotiations on a bill covering everything from education to foreign aid.

Hastert: "Both sides can be proud"
President Clinton said the agreement met his goals of protecting the environment, reducing school class sizes by recruiting more teachers and boosting community policing.

The new fiscal year began on 1 October, since then federal government has been financed with a series of emergency spending bills.

Something for both sides

Both Democrats are Republicans will be able to claim victories from the agreement.

Republicans say they achieved their goal of balancing the budget while assuring that the Social Security trust fund remained untouched.

Democrats can boast of the prospect of 50,000 more police officers on the street, more teachers in classrooms, and funds to start repaying overdue US dues to the United Nations.

UN deal

However, the budget deal is not a final resolution to the country's UN debts.

Many at the UN are impatient with delays in US payments
"I would love to hand you a $926m cheque at once," US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke told UN delegates at a reception on Thursday, adding that the laws Congress was setting did not make this possible.

Of the $926m budgeted over the next three years in the new bill, only $712m is expected to go towards the $1.52bn debt Washington owes to the world body.

The remainder will go to UN agencies the United States supports.

But in a compromise condemned by House Democrats, the US will not fund UN agencies which promote abortion.

UN ambassadors remained unimpressed by the US offer.

The shortfall, Canada's ambassador Robert Fowler said, violated a "fundamental contractual obligation" for UN members to pay their bills "in full, on time and without conditions."

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See also:
15 Oct 99 |  Americas
Clinton's three little words
14 Oct 99 |  Americas
Clinton slams Senate 'isolationism'
18 Oct 99 |  Americas
Clinton vetoes foreign aid bill
15 Nov 99 |  Americas
US deal on outstanding UN dues
15 Nov 99 |  Americas
US to settle UN debt
16 Nov 99 |  Americas
Annan welcomes UN debt deal
17 Nov 99 |  Americas
House passes US budget

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