An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
July 31, 2007
Congress' basic annual chore is to pass a budget blueprint and then enact the 12 spending bills that fund the federal government for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Unlike the GOP, the Democrats did OK on the first part, but as for the second, it has passed only one spending bill.
This past week the Senate approved a $40.6 billion homeland-security bill that includes many of the border-security measures that were part of the now-defunct immigration-reform bill.
The homeland-security measure is $3 billion more than President Bush asked for and the Senate Democrats intended, but border security is a hot political issue and the bill also contains politically popular grants to local police, fire and rescue agencies.
The president has threatened to veto it because of the extra money, but the margin, 89-4, suggests it would be a futile gesture. Bush, who nonchalantly watched federal spending increase almost 60 percent on his watch, has suddenly become concerned about money now that Democrats are doing the spending.
He has threatened to veto nine of the 12 spending bills. Bush is a late convert to the use of the veto. He has used it only twice during the six and a half years of his presidency, and neither time to control spending. The first was to uphold his restrictions on stem-cell research and the second was to thwart an Iraq-war-funding bill that contained timetables.
The crush of spending legislation and the president's veto threats should make for a lively September for the Democrats. Jeering that the Democrats had succeeded in passing only the one spending bill, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell warned, "We're looking at a potential train wreck in September."
He should know. He presided over one himself last September by which time the Republicans had passed exactly two spending bills and never did get around to passing the rest.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com