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CLINTON THREATENS TO VETO BILL SIMILAR TO HIS FLEXTIME

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The Clinton administration is threatening to veto a Republican bill offering workers the chance to swap overtime pay for time off even though the president has proposed a bill that appears similar.

The House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee voted 20-16 along party lines Wednesday to send the bill to the House floor.Republicans said it would help workers juggle job and family responsibilities by allowing employers to offer the option of 1.5 hours of compensatory time for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

President Clinton makes the same claim for his flextime plan, announced in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. The difference between the two, Labor Secretary Robert Reich said, is "the Republican bill provides employers the choice of when to substitute comp time for overtime. The president's bill gives employees the choice."

"I'm going to recommend that he veto the Republican version of this bill if it were to reach his desk," Reich said in an interview.

Democrats said the bill, introduced by Rep. Cass Ballenger, R-N.C., in September, would result in workers being pressured to choose comp time over extra money. Labor leaders are fighting it even though Ballenger added some employee protections in response to criticism from Democrats.

Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., accused Democrats of nitpicking the GOP bill "to find some goofy justification for having a partisan battle."