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Dole, O'Neill Trade Barbs Over Budget Bill Impasse

October 31, 1985|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Bob Dole today accused Democrats of "playing games" with a measure to balance the budget, but House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. charged that the GOP-led Senate "stonewalled" efforts to pass the bill.

The two traded charges in the absence of action by a House-Senate conference panel on the balanced budget measure that is attached to crucial legislation to increase the debt ceiling. The conference failed to reach agreement Wednesday night and delayed a scheduled meeting until late today.

Without agreement by Friday on raising the federal borrowing authority, Treasury officials say they will have to sell assets in the Social Security trust fund in order to pay recipients, losing interest of up to $300 million a year.

"The House ought to act on Gramm-Rudman (the balanced budget measure) and stop playing games," Dole told reporters.

But O'Neill (D-Mass.) charged it was the GOP-led Senate that had "stonewalled it. They want to go into it issue by issue."

'President's Deficit'

"This is the President's deficit. It's not the Democrats'," O'Neill said. "We're trying to bail the most popular President since John Quincy Adams out of the bucket he's put the nation in," the Speaker said.

Late Wednesday, House and Senate budget negotiators disagreed over the sensitive issue of when to begin budget cutting. House Democrats say the Senate, in passing its balanced budget measure, has delayed the start of spending cuts until after the 1986 elections.

"I believe we are sick. Let's take the medicine now," said House Budget Committee Chairman William H. Gray III (D-Pa.).

But Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.) accused Democrats of trying to kill the effort by forcing cuts sooner.

Late Wednesday, House negotiators, led by Democrats, tried to require an estimated $10 billion in cuts during this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

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