WASHINGTON (AP) _ Asserting that the Republican plan to overhaul welfare wouldn't actually get people into jobs, President Clinton vetoed the GOP bill but pledged to work with Congress on a version more acceptable to him.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said today the Republicans have been trying to do just that during budget negotiations.

``I'm not claiming our answer to welfare was perfect, but it did put an end to a failed system,'' said Majority Leader Bob Dole in a Senate speech today. ``We'll try again in 1996.''

Welfare reform is an essential part of getting to a balanced budget. Armey and Dole both indicated that they and other congressional negotiators are moving beyond the vetoed bill, but Clinton still is balking.

``We've gone every inch we can go,'' Armey said in an interview.

He said that during talks between Clinton and Republican leaders, which broke down Tuesday, the GOP offered to revive key features of the bill that originally passed the Senate. Clinton gave tacit support to that bill in September when it passed the Senate, 87-12.

The bill he vetoed, however, was a blended version of the House and Senate bills. The revisions eroded Senate support and it passed there, 52-47, well short of the votes needed to override a veto. The House also lacked the two-thirds majority needed to override.

Armey said House Republicans haven't agreed to all the provisions in the original Senate bill, but are willing to accept its level of savings rather than sticking with the House-Senate version.

Anticipating Clinton's veto, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, issued a statement in advance saying Clinton now must submit a bill specifying what he would accept.

``By vetoing welfare reform, the president has demonstrated what he is against,'' said Archer. ``He must now demonstrate what he is for. No vague statement of principles. No unkept promises. I expect a complete bill, nothing less will do.''

In his veto message, Clinton said he was determined to work with Congress ``to enact real, bipartisan welfare reform.''

The veto was Clinton's 12th. Only one of Clinton's previous 11 vetoes has been overridden.

Clinton charged that the bill was designed to meet an arbitrary budget target rather than to achieve serious welfare reform. He said it would make structural changes and budget cuts that would fall hardest on children and undermine states' ability to move people from welfare to work.

He said he wanted a welfare plan motivated by the urgency of reform rather than by a ``budget plan that is contrary to America's values.''

``The current welfare system is broken and must be replaced, for the sake of the taxpayers who pay for it and the people who are trapped by it,'' he said. But the legislation was ``burdened with deep budget cuts and structural changes that fall short of real reform.''

Clinton called for smaller cuts in foster care and adoption assistance, help for disabled children and legal immigrants, food stamps and the school lunch program.

A centerpiece of the House GOP's ``Contract With America,'' the rewrite of the nation's 60-year-old federal welfare system would have replaced federal guarantees to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with block grants that could be used by the states to fashion their own welfare plans.

It also would have capped the total amount of federal funding for welfare, with savings estimated at $58 billion over the next seven years.

Clinton said Congress must improve work and child care provisions in the bill and that the final welfare legislation should:

_Provide sufficient child care to enable recipients to leave welfare for work.

_Reward states for placing people in jobs.

_Restore the guarantee of health coverage for poor families.

_Require states to maintain their stake in moving people from welfare to work.

_Protect states and families in the event of economic downturn and population growth.

He also said Congress should abandon efforts to gut the earned income tax credit, which he called a ``powerful work incentive.''