Clinton to meet Congress leaders over budget row


PRESIDENT Bill Clinton and congressional leaders are expected to meet later today to try to end the partial government shutdown that has put 280,000 employees out of work and left thousands of contractors without pay.

Congress failed on Sunday to end the two week old partial shutdown that has crippled many government services and President Clinton also held two hours of talks with congressional leaders in a bid to reach agreement on a seven year balanced budget.

The president and congressional leaders have agreed to meet at the White House later today when they hope to move towards making decisions on thorny issues such as the size of cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and taxes.

However, President Clinton left the problem of re opening government to Congress, which was still divided on the issue. The Senate is trying to work around Republicans from the House of Representatives who, on December 19th, passed a resolution to re open government only if there were a final budget deal.

While all sides agree there should be a balanced budget within seven years, House Republicans have also insisted on a $245 billion (£153 billion) tax cut. President Clinton has said that would force unacceptable cuts in service for the Medicare health programme for the elderly and the Medicaid health programme for the poor.