Budget Battle Resolved

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The budget battle is over, at least for fiscal year 1996. President Clinton and Congressional leaders have agreed to legislation that would fund several government agencies which are currently operating under temporary budgets through next year. With the latest continuing budget resolution set to expire at midnight Thursday,the heat was on Republicans eager to avoid a repeat of earlier shutdowns. With polls showing the public largely holding Republicans responsible for failing to reach a budget deal, Washington correspondent James Carney says that Clinton and Congressional Democrats had emerged from months of contentious budget negotiations and government shutdowns with greater leverage. "Republicans have had no stomach for another shutdown after being shellacked in public opinion polls after the last one." After resolving a number of other issues during several months of negotiations, the remaining points of contention centered on environmental issues. Clinton objected to Republican riders on several bills that would have increased logging in the Tongass, limited the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate sensative wetlands areas, and kept several species off the Endangered Species list. The President needed to take a stand to appease "green" voters, irate at his decision to allow logging in old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest (a change of policy Clinton has called "a mistake"). White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta said the President will sign the bill when it reaches his desk, probably sometime today.