Done Deal

The haggling ends with both sides -- as always -- claiming victory. But it's the Democrats who are going home happy.

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WASHINGTON: Republicans were the first out the door, smiling as Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and Dick Armey patted each other on the back for the cameras -- the budget deal is finally done, and, after legislative aides spend their weekend proofreading the bill, it will come before the House for a vote Tuesday afternoon. "Mr. and Mrs. America," boomed a suddenly populist Armey, "your surplus is intact." That was more than could be said for the Republicans' self-esteem. Although the majority party could claim a few victories, most of the spoils of these tedious negotiations have gone to the side that was supposed to be in the most trouble: the White House.

"It's been really striking how the Democrats, in the minority and with their President facing impeachment, have handed Republicans almost all the losses in the budget fight," says TIME congressional correspondent James Carney. "Republicans have chosen compromise rather than risk the fallout of another shutdown." Dick Gephardt got to talk about saving the children, the teachers and other warm political fuzzies -- he was in such a good mood he thanked Al Gore. Republicans, despite all those Congressional seats, were strangely talking about what they had managed to save.