Bush vetoes spending bill; OKs $459 billion for Defense
President Bush on Nov. 13 vetoed a congressional spending bill and sharpened his attacks on Democrats in a dispute over the federal budget, ridiculing the opposition for “acting like a teenager with a credit card.”
Mr. Bush sent back a $606 billion appropriations bill that combined spending for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.
“This bill is 44 days late and nearly $10 billion over budget, and filled with more than 2,000 earmarks,” Mr. Bush said during a speech to business leaders in New Albany, Ind. “Congress owes the taxpayers much better than this effort.”
Mr. Bush did sign a $459 billion defense appropriations bill, the first spending bill to be passed by this Congress and signed into law by the president.
Congress set a record, the White House said, for taking longer than any previous Congress to successfully pass a spending bill.
Democrats, in response, drew attention to the amount of money being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threatened again to withhold funding for the U.S. military if the president does not agree to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Mr. Bush, in his speech, said that Democrats were “elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility,” but that since taking control of Congress last fall they have tried to increase spending by $22 billion this year and raise taxes at every opportunity.
However, Mr. Bush did not veto any appropriations bills from 2002 to 2006, while a Republican-controlled Congress increased spending at a record pace, drawing the ire of many conservatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pounced on the president’s spending record, firing back at Mr. Bush.
“Given his dismal record of maxing out America’s credit card, the president is no position to lecture Congress about fiscal respon- sibility or economic policy,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.
Democrats accuse the president of manufacturing a budget fight over a $22 billion difference with Democrats that could have been negotiated, so that he can reap po- litical points with a disenfranchised conservative base.
The White House defended the president’s record, saying Republicans responded to more than 140 veto threats from Mr. Bush by adjusting spending bills.
And Mr. Bush insisted that the Democrats’ current budget adds up, over five years, to $205 billion in additional annual spending.
“Some [Democrats] claim this is not really much of a difference,” Mr. Bush said. “And the scary part is that they seem to mean it.”
Having passed their first of 12 spending bills, Democrats still have a long way to go with the rest.
Five bills have yet to be voted on in the Senate, and of the six that have made it through both chambers, only two — the vetoed Labor, Education and HHS, as well as Military/Veterans — have gone through conference committee.
Further, congressional Republicans charge that Democrats are intentionally delaying the Military/Veterans spending bill.
“They’re holding these bills back to use their emotional, sensational value as leverage in a spending fight with the president,” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
Democrats, however, continued to contrast the president’s veto, and his threat to veto other domestic spending bills, with his requests for more money for the Iraq war.
“The president wants to spend another $200 billion dollars on the war in Iraq, and ignore the very real battles we are waging here at home,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, who chairs the Democratic Caucus.
Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee released a report saying that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could end up costing $3.5 trillion through 2017.
Mr. Reid cited the Joint Economic Committee report, and said that the wars were coming “at the expense of American priorities at home.” He called the president’s veto of the Labor, Education and HHS bill “unfathomable.”
White House press secretary Dana Perino, however, dismissed the committee report as politically motivated.
“This committee is known for being partisan and political,” Mrs. Perino said.
Mr. Bush also urged Congress to pass legislation expanding the use of renewable energy sources, and to immediately repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax without raising other taxes in its place.
Rejected. President Bush