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In an apparent setback for the child-care bill, President Bush and Congressional leaders were negotiating late last week to pass a $14-billion deficit-reduction bill that is "clean" of amendments.

Congressional Democrats had hoped to attach the child-care legislation and other provisions to the bill, and President Bush was pushing to include a capital-gains tax cut in the measure.

But Mr. Bush dropped his tax-cut proposal late last week and threatened to keep $16.1 billion in across-the-board cuts imposed last month under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law if a clean deficit-reduction bill were not passed.

The across-the board cuts trimmed about $1 billion from the $24-billion Education Department budget.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell said the deal is likely to push consideration of the child-care legislation into next year.

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