Each side tries to define budget debate as talks continue

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Clinton called for a budget “that is worthy of our children” Sunday, as White House and congressional bargainers sought a truce for their spending battle that would let lawmakers go home to campaign for re-election.
Budget negotiators met yet again at the Capitol to sort through scores of disputes over money and policy, even as top Republicans went on television trying to define the fight. They sought to portray a president who has been distracted by scandal and by repeated fund-raising trips, and who has rejected GOP proposals for tax breaks and vouchers aimed at students.
Nearly two weeks after the government’s new fiscal year began, eight of the 13 annual spending measures remain incomplete. A stopgap measure keeping the government operating expires tonight.
Neither side is willing to let the dispute escalate into a federal shutdown that could hurt incumbents’ re-election bids, and Clinton said he would sign another short-term bill to keep agencies at work.
The eight unfinished spending bills for 1999 are together worth about $600 billion, more than one-third of the total federal budget.
Clinton wants about $3 billion more for programs he favors, including more than $1 billion for helping school districts hire 100,000 more teachers and more funding for Russia and other former Soviet states, toxic waste cleanups and food safety efforts.
Republicans have signaled that they are willing to provide about $2 billion, but want some of the money spent for programs they prefer, such as education funds that states could dispense as they please.