Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A vetoed spending bill at last?

Could this be it? The sign of a glimmer of the survival of actual fiscal conservatism in the White House? Through GWB's entire first term (and so far through his second), he hasn't met a spending bill he didn't like, and hasn't found the intestinal fortitude to veto a single one (for comparison, Reagan vetoed 22 in his first three years in office). But just two weeks after both houses of Congress agreed on a reasonable 2006 budget, provisions were added to the federal highway bill that would make it, in the words of actual fiscal conservative and Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, "unequivocally, unquestionably a budget buster." Gregg did the brave thing and forced a full-chamber vote to save the bill. It, along with all the added spending, passed by an overwhelming 76-22. So much for spending discipline in Congress.

So where's the veto thing come from? According to Michael Franc's weekly Legislative Lowdown, some of the forces arrayed against the budget-busting provisions were 1) a warning from Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta that the bill would lead to higher gas taxes or a bankrupt highway trust fund, 2) vocal opposition from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, 3) heated denunciations from conservative taxpayer groups, and 4) a firm veto threat from the White House. GWB, if you're listening, and that bill crosses your desk and you just can't find the pen that spells VETO, let me know and I'll send you mine.

UPDATE: Correction, that 76-22 vote was on whether or not the bill's being increased was in violation of Senate budget rules. The highway bill as a whole (all $295 billion of it) was passed by an 89-11 vote. What I find interesting about that is that somewhere there are 11 senators who think it was against Senate budget rules to increase a bill's spending past the just-agreed-upon budget, but who voted to pass the bill and send it to the president's desk anyway. Wow. Just -- wow.


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