WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton today accused Republicans of choosing the ``path of partisanship and confrontation'' as he promised to veto an $8.6 billion emergency spending bill. Republicans charged Clinton is playing politics.

The promised veto sets the stage for what could be the most acrimonious showdown since the budget dispute that led to the government shutdown two winters ago. ``Because congressional leaders chose to attach unacceptable political items to vital disaster relief legislation, I have no choice but to veto that measure,'' the president said.

Coincidentally, the veto pledge came as Congress approved the final outline of the historic balanced-budget agreement reached between Clinton and Republican leaders.

The House approved the emergency spending measure 220-201 Thursday, minutes after the Senate passed the bill by a 67-31 margin. It could get to the president's desk as early as today.

``Unfortunately, the Republican leaders of Congress have chosen the path of partisanship and confrontation in their actions on the disaster relief bill,'' Clinton said.

He urged Republicans to send him a new bill without ``political provisions ... cutting critical investments in education and the environment ... and that they know I will not accept.''

There is wide bipartisan support for the basic spending bill, which would provide $5.5 billion for disaster relief in 35 states, $1.9 billion for peacekeeping in Bosnia and the Mideast and nearly $1 billion for veterans' benefits.

But Republicans insisted on using the bill as a vehicle for two measures that the White House vehemently opposes: One would institute a procedure for eliminating the possibility of a shutdown such as those that paralyzed the government in 1995 and 1996. The other would prevent the Census Bureau from using a sampling method in the 2000 census that could boost the number of urban Americans recorded.

The White House says the shutdown measure would result in programs getting less money than agreed upon in the balanced-budget accord. Republicans fear the sampling method because it could result in redistricting that would hurt their chances of retaining control of the House.

With the veto looming, Republicans insisted that, first, money was already flowing to disaster victims and second, Clinton would be responsible for any hardships.

If Clinton vetoes the bill, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, ``then the president should explain to the people of the Dakotas, the people he visited and he promised he would set aside politics to help, why he is breaking his word.''

``He has a simple choice,'' said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. ``He can choose the people or he can play party politics.''

Democrats responded with big posters of flood-destroyed homes in North Dakota, and accused Republicans of being callous toward people's suffering. ``This makes no sense,'' said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. ``They ought not to play a game on this bill and they know it.''

Short-term disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been available, but other funding that people in the flood-hit northern plains states desperately need, for housing relocation and livestock replacement, won't start until the bill is passed.

Democrats expressed hope that, the political points having been made, the president could immediately return the vetoed bill and Congress could quickly send back a bill stripped of the contentious provisions.

But that appeared unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the White House can't have everything its way if it wants such a major spending bill to go through. ``The census language and the anti-shutdown language will be in the next bill,'' he promised.

If that's the case, the Senate in particular could slip into gridlock. Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, whose state of Minnesota also suffered major flood damage, said that if an acceptable bill isn't passed, ``I will use every measure I know how to use as a senator to stop the process here.''

The bill, which would be paid for mainly by cutting housing and defense programs, would provide money for dozens of other programs in this fiscal year.

The Women, Infant and Children nutrition program would get an extra $76 million, while $240 million would keep welfare benefits going to legal immigrants through September. There's $186 million for repair work at Yosemite National Park, $30 million for National Transportation Safety Board investigations into the ValuJet and TWA Flight 800 crashes and $33 million for repairs to the Botanical Gardens in Washington.