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BUSH PLANS TO VETO BILL OVER ABORTION PROVISION
WHITE HOUSE ABANDONS BID FOR COMPROMISE

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WHITE HOUSE ABANDONS BID FOR COMPROMISE

President Bush will veto a bill allowing federally financed abortions in cases of rape and incest after giving up efforts to find a compromise, his spokesman said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said the provision, part of a spending bill already approved by a House-Senate conference committee and the full House, would be vetoed once it wins final Senate approval.The White House previously had hinted that a veto was likely. Tuesday, Fitzwater said it flatly.

The White House abandoned the bid for a compromise after chief of staff John Sununu met for a second day Monday with leading anti-abortion congressmen.

"We talked to people on all sides of the issue. We couldn't find any flexibility," Fitzwater said Tuesday.

Bush earlier had threatened to veto legislation expanding current law, but last week he said he was seeking "room for flexibility" to avert a veto.

"I'm not looking for any conflict over this," he said Friday. "I'm not going to change my position any. But let's see how those negotiations come out."

Congressional Democratic leaders have already conceded they do not have enough votes to override a veto of the measure, which has already passed the House.

The efforts to reach a compromise were never given much of a chance by abortion rights supporters, who won a surprise victory last week in the House and expressed no willingness to yield their position.

Fitzwater acknowledged as much after Sununu met with Reps. Vin Weber, R-Minn., Christopher Smith, R-N.J., and Henry Hyde, R-Ill., just as he did on Friday.

"I don't think really there was ever much opportunity to get close," Fitzwater said. He said "senior advisers" to the president "have recommended a veto."

Abortion rights supporters warned that a veto will hurt the Republican Party in the context of what some believe is a changing political climate on the issue.

"If he vetoes it, it hurts him," Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., said earlier Monday. "It hurts our party. It hurts our candidates."

The bill next goes to the Senate for agreement on a separate provision.