WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton urged Congress on Saturday to end the budget battle by focusing on an education spending package that will provide the "basic building blocks of the 21st century workforce."
"I hope Congress will keep its commitment to America's children," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.
He called on Congress to "pass a balanced budget that makes education the number one priority."
Clinton said education proposals would reduce class size and provide money for "crumbling schools" and after-school programs.
Negotiations between White House and congressional officials were under way on school spending, immigration, some expanded Medicare payments and other issues.
An agreement would finally close the books on the overdue fiscal 2001 budget and the 106th Congress as early as next week.
The GOP's right wing has become restive as Clinton administration officials and congressional leaders move toward a year-end budget pact.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told reporters Friday that he listened to the conservatives and predicted that whatever deal emerges from negotiations would get strong GOP support.
Clinton said investing in the "education of our children" and continuing to pay down the national debt are necessary steps to "keep prosperity going" -- prosperity he said was marked by an unemployment rate of 4 percent and the creation of 20 millions of new jobs over the past eight years.
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