Bush Faults Democrats for Inaction on Spending Bills
President Bush on Monday in Arkansas criticized Democrats for their failure to send him any of the 12 fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills within the past two weeks and reiterated his threat to veto a number of the bills, CongressDaily reports (Cohn/Bourge, CongressDaily, 10/15).
FY 2008 began on Oct. 1, and Cabinet departments and federal agencies since that time have operated on a continuing resolution (Baker, Washington Post, 10/16).
During a visit in Rogers, Ark., Bush said that the bills, which include $22 billion more in spending for domestic programs than the $933 billion he requested in February, would cost $205 billion over five years and lead to higher taxes (Ward, Washington Times, 10/16).
Bush said, "You're fixin' to see what they call a fiscal showdown in Washington," adding, "The Congress gets to propose, and if it doesn't meet needs as far as I'm concerned, I get to veto. That's precisely what I intend to do" (Feller, AP/Denver Post, 10/16). He added, "You're fixin' to get stuck with a tax raise, unless of course, you know, I prevent them from raising your taxes, which I fully intend to do" (Washington Times, 10/16).
In addition, Bush said, "Congress needs to be responsible with your money, and they need to pass these appropriations bills -- one at a time. And then we can work together to see whether or not they make fiscal sense for the United States" (AP/Denver Post, 10/16).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "The president's priorities are deeply misguided," adding, "At the same time that he is proposing cuts to key domestic programs, he is demanding that Congress appropriate another $190 billion for the war in Iraq" (Washington Times, 10/16). He added, "This is not a fight about spending. It's a fight about our priorities as a nation -- whether we adequately fund education, medical research, Head Start, clean water programs and health care for our veterans and men and women in uniform" (AP/Denver Post, 10/16).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "The president should stop playing politics and work with Congress to invest in America's domestic priorities and strengthen the middle class" (Washington Times, 10/16).
Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said, "What happened to compassionate conservatism? President Bush and his Republican friends are willing to spend billions of dollars on their failed Iraq strategy, but they have no problem denying our children the health care they need and deserve. That's just plain wrong" (Washington Post, 10/16).
According to the Wall Street Journal, Democrats have waited to send Bush some completed appropriations bills "until they have picked the best fight to wage in the face of his veto threats" (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 10/15).
Earlier this month, Democrats said that they first plan to send Bush the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which he has threatened to veto. Bush has proposed to reduce funds for programs covered under the bill by $3.6 billion from FY 2007, and Democrats have proposed to increase the funds by $7 billion to $9 billion (California Healthline, 10/3).
Reid said that the Senate plans to begin debate on the bill on Tuesday. The House approved a different version of the legislation earlier this year (Wayne, CQ Today, 10/16).
On Monday, Republicans criticized Democrats for their failure to appoint conferees to reconcile different versions of the Military Construction-VA appropriations bill. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Chair Chet Edwards (D-Texas) said that informal negotiations on the legislation have begun and that he hopes to send the bill to Bush by Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Bush has said that he will sign the bill (Cohn, CongressDaily, 10/16).