by Matthew Hay Brown
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say it is reckless of the White House to issue a veto threat against the spending package being developed by congressional Democrats before the president has had seen it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, joined the Bush administration in calling the deal described in press reports unacceptable.
The exchange Saturday suggests another rancorous week ahead on Capitol Hill – with lawmakers increasingly unlikely to break for the year next Friday, as they had hoped.
It began with White House Budget Director Jim Nussle saying President Bush would veto the “budget-busting” omnibus bill that includes $18 billion more than the president requested.
Reid and Pelosi responded with a joint statement:
“Although he admits he has not even seen the bipartisan legislation that would fund critical priorities such as border security, homeland security, and putting more police officers on the street, the president has recklessly threatened to veto it. For a president already lacking in credibility, it is dangerous to issue veto threats based on press reports alone.
“Unlike the president, congressional Democrats understand the need to fund critical priorities at home while we also correct the disastrous course the White House has set at home and abroad. This war already costs taxpayers $12 billion a month, and we learned this week that yet another billion dollars of military equipment has gone missing in Iraq. The last thing this Administration should do is preach about responsible management.
“Meanwhile, America expects this president to lead – that means working in a bipartisan way with Congress to responsibly address our country’s priorities rather than issuing veto threats without even knowing what he is threatening to veto.”
McConnell, however, remains on the same page as Bush:
“While it’s certainly encouraging to see congressional Democrats stand up to the anti-war fringe and start the process of living up to Congress’ commitment to fund the troops in harm’s way, the rest of their self-negotiated ‘deal’ described in today’s press reports remains unacceptable to dongressional Republicans. The funding levels they are reportedly prepared to offer for their 11 unfinished funding bills is too much to ask of the American taxpayer.
“Moreover, the funds they reportedly are prepared to provide the troops are insufficient to adequately provide for our troops in the field and they deserve better from Congress than that.
“Finally, while I appreciate the movement in the right direction on the part of congressional Democrats toward concluding this Congress, we must not overspend the taxpayer's money and we must protect our troops; the deal described in recent press reports falls short of that mark.
“We need to keep working together until we meet these two goals.”