Tussle over Iraq bill reminds many of bitter 1995





The parallels are striking: bold new Congressional majorities swept into power by public dissatisfaction with White House policies. The administration and Congress digging in for a test of wills over federal spending. A watershed presidential election looming.

Memories of the rancorous 1995 budget fight between President Clinton and leaders of the Republican revolution are casting a distinct shadow over the current impasse between President Bush and Congressional Democrats on Iraq. Each side believes it can apply lessons learned from that earlier battle to its strategy in the current showdown.

The 1995 budget fight grew out of the push by Republicans — riding their historic House takeover the year before — for cuts in federal spending, with Medicare as their poster child for a bloated federal program. When Mr. Clinton refused to go along with trimming the program, budget talks collapsed, and the resulting 21-day shutdown put nearly 300,000 federal workers on furlough and disrupted public services.

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