President Bush Vetoes Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill
President Bush on Tuesday vetoed a $606 billion fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3043) appropriations bill and signed a $459 billion FY 2008 Defense appropriations bill (HR 3222) that includes a continuing resolution to fund Cabinet departments and federal agencies at current levels until Dec. 14, the New York Times reports.
Bush said that he vetoed the Labor-HHS-Education bill, which includes $150.7 billion in discretionary spending, because the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by $9.8 billion (Andrews/Pear, New York Times, 11/14).
House and Senate Democrats likely do not have the two-thirds majority of support required to override the veto (Baker, Washington Post, 11/14). House Democrats have scheduled a vote to override the veto on Thursday (Cohn, CongressDaily, 11/14).
Bush said, "The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager with a new credit card. This year alone, the leadership in Congress has proposed to spend $22 billion more than my budget provides. Now, some of them claim that's not really much of a difference -- the scary part is, they seem to mean it."
According to the Washington Post, as "Bush demands full funding for the war, he signaled that Tuesday's action will be the first of a cascade of vetoes killing other spending bills, casting himself as a deficit hawk blocking a tax-and-spend Congress (Washington Post, 11/14).
House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) said, "The same president who is asking us to spend another $200 billion on the misguided war in Iraq ... is now pretending to protect the deficit by refusing to provide a $6 billion increase to crucial domestic investments in education, health care, medical research and worker protections that will make this country stronger" (Watts, Dow Jones, 11/13).
House and Senate Democrats said that they hope to complete all 12 FY 2008 appropriations bills by Dec. 14 (New York Times, 11/14). Democrats "might have to take up another CR before the current one expires Dec. 14 if there is no resolution of the overall top-line funding dispute by then," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 11/14).
According to CQ Today, Bush might not sign any additional appropriations bills "for a considerable period," with "no compromise ... in sight" on the 11 other bills (Clarke, CQ Today, 11/13). "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 Labor-HHS-Education bill and the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (HR 2642) bill -- "have gone through conference committee," the Washington Times reports (Ward, Washington Times, 11/14).
Democrats have promised Veterans of Foreign Wars officials that they will seek to pass the Military Construction-VA bill in two or three weeks (Yoest, CQ Today, 11/13).
"Congressional Democrats spent the fall preparing for their budget confrontation with the White House, and the strategy they seem to have settled on is futility," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. Democrats "knew President Bush would veto" the Labor-HHS-Education bill, and "they also knew they'd lack the votes for an override," which is "why the bottom's fallen out of their approval ratings," according to the editorial.
According to the editorial, Bush was "being too kind" when he said that the legislation exceeds "reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending." The editorial states, "Democrats were desperate for a veto-proof majority, and for the sake of their earmarks, some Republicans were content to go along," adding, "Thankfully, enough GOP members realized it, and maybe a few even hoped to recover their credibility on spending."
The editorial concludes, "Since there aren't enough votes to override Mr. Bush, it's back to the drawing board. Maybe next time Democrats should try something new -- say, spending less money" (Wall Street Journal, 11/14).