260,000 on Involuntary Leave in U.S. Budget War

WASHINGTON -- Some 260,000 U.S. government workers were temporarily laid off again Monday as President Bill Clinton and the Republican-led Congress failed to end a budget impasse that has forced the second partial shutdown in a month.

No formal talks were set Monday between White House and Republican negotiators but White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta was to meet with congressional Democrats to discuss ideas to break the deadlock, presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said.

Of some 13 spending bills, only seven have been passed by Congress and signed into law. Clinton planned Monday to veto spending bills for the Veterans Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Interior Department because they contained measures he found unacceptable, McCurry said. He also planned to veto a bill financing the departments of State, Commerce and Justice.

Nonessential employees in seven major departments and other agencies that have yet to get their appropriations for fiscal 1996 were told they had been laid off because of a lack of funding. A temporary spending measure that ended a six-day shutdown idling 800,000 federal workers last month expired at midnight Friday.

Essential services such as the military, law enforcement, air traffic control and mail delivery were continuing. But the dispute affected tourists locked out of national monuments, museums and parks over the weekend.

Although no bipartisan budget negotiations were set for Monday, Panetta said Clinton might meet with Republican leaders to try to break the logjam. Panetta and Democratic leaders are to discuss some "new ideas" to resolve the budget dispute at a meeting later Monday, McCurry said.

"They are looking at a range of budget issues and how we can break the logjam and hopefully put the government back to work," he said.