: As most of the House takes a long holiday break, the budget stasis continues. Bill Archer's stiff letter to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin Tuesday, questioning the constitutionality of the financing schemes Rubin has used to keep the government just under the $4.9 trillion debt ceiling, is more bark than bite. Rubin has converted some federal employees' retirement securities to cash to keep the government going. Karen Tumulty reports: "The Republicans have been saying this all along. The debt ceiling is their ultimate weapon -- the big squeeze play. I think they were taken by surprise in October when they learned that Rubin had the tools available to stretch the financing limit, and that he was prepared to use them. Their strategy now is to stop him. So far, the strategy isn't working. The budget talks will resume tomorrow, but nothing is likely to happen this week. President Clinton is not expected to get involved in the talks again until at least Friday, which is about when members of the House will begin arriving back in town."