Bush ve­toes spend­ing bill; OKs $459 bil­lion for De­fense

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jon Ward

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.

Bloomberg News

Re­jected. Pres­i­dent Bush

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