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Some progress reportedly was made in the budget imbroglio when White House chief of staff Panetta and met with congressional Republicans. White House spokesman Mike McCurry said they had agreed on a work plan involving chief negotiators for the White House and Congress. More talks were expected later in the day, but they would not include the issue of a temporary spending bill, he said.

In a 51 to 45 vote, the Senate decided to take President Clinton to court for refusing to turn over disputed Whitewater notes. But the threat could fizzle as the White House works to eliminate roadblocks to releasing the notes.

The House voted 319 to 100 to override Clinton's veto of a bill limiting securities-fraud lawsuits. If the Senate follow suit with an override, the bill becomes law. Clinton has vetoed 10 bills since taking office, including four in the past week.

What does Senate majority leader Bob Dole want for Christmas? He wants to lead a congressional delegation of five or six senators to the Balkans to visit US troops on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But tangled budget negotiations are threatening to hold up the trip. Clinton had wanted to spend Christmas with the troops as well, but was advised against it by military commanders, McCurry said. "Frankly, we would get in the way" of the deployment, he explained.

The House was expected to take action on a welfare reform bill that would replace the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with block grants to the states. The bill would trim food stamp benefits and curb aid to immigrants, disabled children, drug addicts, and alcoholics. An experimental change in the federal school lunch program is also included.

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