Bad Feelings on the Budget

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The era of good feeling that flush government coffers brought to budget negotiations is ending as Democrats and Republicans heat up the fight over specifics of the deal. Although both houses overwhelmingly approved a final, nonbinding outline of an agreement to balance the budget by 2002, cracks in the consensus are appearing as the GOP tries to push through its version of welfare reform. Democrats were crying foul after two Republican-backed provisions passed the House Ways and Means human resources subcommittee. One would cut benefits to disabled noncitizens, while the other would deny minimum wage and workplace protections to some welfare recipients working for the government or nonprofit organizations. The attempt to slash welfare benefits for noncitizens particularly peeved the Clinton Administration, leading OMB director Franklin Raines, to inform GOP leaders that they would have a fight on their hands if they fail to live up to the agreement.