by Mark Silva, and updated
President Bush has vetoed another spending bill: A $150.7-billion Labor, Health and Education appropriations bill.
This is the second spending bill that Bush has vetoed for over-spending (he also vetoed a children’s health insurance bill over objections for its extension of benefits). And Congress overrode the president’s veto of the other spending bill, a water resources development act.
Bush signed another appropriations bill, for Defense -- with the White House calling it "not a perfect bill, but "essential to deliver these funds to our military in a time of war.''
But, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said en route to Indiana with the president for a speech about the economy and congressional spending, the vetoed bill provided $10 billion more than the president wanted and included some 2,000 "earmarks'' -- special projects inserted at the behest of individual congressmen.
"He will ask Congress to take out the park and reduce the overall spending level and return it to him quickly,'' Perino said.
Democratic leaders are accusing the president, whose a speech in Indiana today iwill include complaints of excessive congressional spending, of playing “pure politics.’’
“The same president who is asking us to spend another $200 billion on the misguided war in Iraq and is insisting on providing $60 billion in tax cuts next year to folks who make over a million bucks a year, is now pretending to protect the deficit by refusing to provide a $6 billion increase to crucial domestic investments in education, healthcare, medical research and worker protections that will make this country stronger,’’ said Rep. David Obey, (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“That is not responsible and it is not credible,’’ Obey said of the vetoed bill. “There has been virtually no criticism of its contents. It is clear the only reason the president vetoed this bill is pure politics.”
Bush, in his veto message to Congress, wrote: "This bill continues to fund programs that are duplicative or ineffective. The Congress continues to fund 56 programs totaling more than $3.2 billion that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results.''
According to the committee, lawmakers rejected proposed cuts that the White House wanted in healthcare access, education, medical research, job training and grants to alleviate poverty and promote economic development. The bill offers a 4.3 percent increase in these programs, $6.2 billion above last year – while the White House proposed to cut $3.6 billion.
"With today's veto,'' said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), "the president has shown once again how out of touch and out of step he is with the values of America's families. Cancer research, investments in our schools, job training, protecting workers, and many other urgent priorities have all fallen victim to a president who squanders billions of dollars in Iraq but is unwilling to invest in America's future."
This bill, like the water bill, could inspire another veto override. It passed the House by 274-141, with support from 50 Republicans.
A full analysis of the vetoed bill is available here.