President Bush warned Congress on Saturday that he will use his veto power to stop runaway government spending.
“The American people do not want to return to the days of tax-and-spend policies,” Bush said in his radio address.
The House passed a $37 billion budget for the Homeland Security Department on Friday, but Republicans rallied enough votes to uphold a promised veto from Bush.
The measure — one of several annual spending bills that Congress began to consider this week — exceeds Bush’s request for the department by $2.1 billion.
The administration, hoping to appease Republicans who demand fiscal restraint, has pledged to keep overall spending to the level in Bush’s proposed budget in February.
The president has had uneven success.
Most recently, Democrats added $17 billion to an Iraq war funding bill, money not sought by Bush. All told, Democrats plan spending increases for annual agency budgets of about $23 billion above the White House budget request.
House GOP conservatives have pledged to come up with the votes needed to uphold any Bush vetoes.
“I am not alone in my opposition,” Bush said, stressing that 147 Republicans in the House have pledged to stand with him. “These 147 members are more than the one-third needed to sustain my veto of any bills that spend too much.”
The president, though, has backed away from his veto threat of the politically sensitive bill to fund veterans’ programs. It exceeds Bush’s request by $4 billion, or 7 percent, but the president acquiesced when GOP lawmakers made it clear that with troops overseas, they were not interested in squaring off with Democrats over spending for veterans.
In his radio broadcast, Bush also railed against earmarks — a common Capitol Hill practice of slipping pet projects into spending bills.
He said that in January, the House passed a rule that called for full disclosure of earmarks. To give the public a chance to peek at earmarks, he said the administration has started posting them on a web site called www.earmarks.omb.gov.
When they ran the House, Republicans larded legislation with these pet projects. But on Thursday, they were the ones forcing Democrats to be more open about Congress’ pork barrel ways.
After days of bickering, Democrats this week abandoned plans to pass spending bills without allowing foes of so-called earmarks to challenge them in the full House. The hope is that by shedding more light on earmarks, excessive spending on home district projects will be curtailed.