Officials Dispute Possible Pocket Veto of Defense Bill
Congressional Democrats and White House officials "appear on the verge of a new constitutional fight" over whether President Bush can pocket veto the fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585), The Hill reports (Alarkon, The Hill, 1/2).
The $696 billion measure includes almost $950 million for improvements to health benefits for veterans and pay increases for military personnel (California Healthline, 1/2).
On Dec. 28, 2007, Bush returned the bill to the House with a message of disapproval. White House officials on Monday said that Bush had pocket vetoed the legislation, a move that would prevent an override vote by Congress. A pocket veto occurs when the president does not act on legislation for 10 days after passage when Congress is out of session (The Hill, 1/2).
The House adjourned on Dec. 31, 2007, but the Senate has remained in pro forma session. White House officials said that Bush can pocket veto the bill because the legislation originated in the House.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said that Bush cannot pocket veto the bill and that they consider his message of disapproval a normal veto (Hunter, CQ Today, 1/2). Pelosi spokesperson Nadeam Elshami said, "Congress vigorously rejects any claim that the president has the authority to pocket veto this legislation and will treat any bill returned to the Congress as open to an override vote" (The Hill, 1/2).
Reid spokesperson Jim Manley added, "There was no pocket veto because Congress was available to receive the veto message." Pelosi and Reid have considered the possibility of votes to override the veto, aides said (CQ Today, 1/2).