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WILL GOP ATTACH `CONTRACT' TO HARD-TO-VETO MEASURES?

Republicans might try to force President Clinton's hand by attaching GOP bills to budgetary measures that he would have difficulty vetoing, House Speaker Newt Gingrich says.

As Congress completed its first 100 days and prepared to enter its next phase, the Georgia Republican praised Clinton for standing up to Democrats who are clamoring for vetoes. But Gingrich told CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that Republicans were ready to fight any presidential vetoes."We may well do it that way," he said when asked whether Republicans would attach their "Contract With America" bills to measures, such as legislation to raise the national debt ceiling, that Clinton could not veto without bringing government operations to a halt.

He said such tactics were still five or six months away, when Congress reaches the end of its legislative calendar, and that Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., would probably take the lead in deciding Republican strategy.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said there was a "real strong likelihood" that Republicans would resort to such "train wreck" tactics.

"It may not be a train wreck. It could be a train derailment and obviously it's going to take a lot to put the train back on the tracks. But clearly that's high-stakes politics and it's legislating at its worst," Daschle said on ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley."

White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, also appearing on ABC, said the Republican decision to pass a tax cut bill before moving on to budgetary matters increased the possibility of confrontation when Congress gets to appropriations bills late in the session.

"It is, I think, a formula for that kind of train wreck," he said.

Clinton, in a speech in Dallas last Friday, said he hoped to work with Republicans, particularly in the Senate, to moderate some of the bills that have passed the House.

But he also made clear that he would veto GOP bills on crime, regulatory reform, welfare reform, peacekeeping and others if changes were not made in the House versions.