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Setting the Record Straight: Congress Refuses to Compromise on Excessive Spending

November 09, 2007

Unlike Republican-Controlled Congresses, Congressional Democrats Defy Veto Threats With $205 Billion In Additional Spending

In response to a statement that the Republican-controlled Congress "respond[ed] to veto threats by the President … and brought [spending] down," CNN's Wolf Blitzer wrongly contends, "That didn't happen." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 11/8/07)

  • The Administration issued more than 140 veto threats while Republicans had control of Congress, and more than a third of these threats were on appropriations bills or bills with spending-related issues. Veto threats were issued because of both policy-related and spending-related objections.

  • Because the Republican leadership worked with the Administration to resolve differences, only one of these threats resulted in an actual veto. For example:

    • In April 2006, President Bush threatened a veto of the FY07 War Supplemental if "presented a bill that provides more than $92.2 billion, exclusive of funding for the President's plan to address pandemic influenza." (Office Of Management And Budget, Statement Of Administration Policy: H.R. 4939 – Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act For Defense, The Global War On Terror, And Hurricane Recovery, 2006, 4/25/06)

    • Accordingly, the Republican-controlled Congress worked to strip spending from the final bill, and the President was able to sign it into law. The final bill did not include:

      • $700 million for a railroad relocation project in Mississippi
      • $200 million in grants through the Federal Transit Administration
      • $3.4 billion in agricultural assistance
      • $10 million for State and local law enforcement assistance
      • $1 billion in fisheries assistance through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      • $202 million in HUD rental assistance
      • $30 million for election assistance
      • $30 million to mitigate insect damage in certain western sections of the national forests
      • $1.5 million to monitor certain water projects in Hawaii
      • $12 million for mosquito abatement
      • $350 million for displaced students
      • $30 million for Higher Education assistance
      • $648 million for various port items
      • $289 million compensation fund
      • $50 million for the Going to the Sun Road
  • Other examples of the Republican-controlled Congress responding to veto threats by keeping spending at an acceptable level include:

    • FY06 Labor-HHS Spending Bill (H.R. 3010): A veto threat was issued because the bill included nearly $3 billion in additional spending through a budget gimmick added in the Senate to mask the true level of discretionary spending by shifting Federal payments one day into the next fiscal year. As a result of the veto threat, this provision was dropped. Spending did not exceed the levels requested by the President, and the President signed the bill into law.

    • FY02 Defense/Emergency Supplemental Bill (H.R. 3338): A veto threat was issued if the bill "provides discretionary spending beyond … agreed upon levels." A compromise was reached to fund the bill at an acceptable level.

The Administration Has Consistently Used Veto Threats To Guide Legislation With Both Republican- And Democratic-Controlled Congresses

Veto Threats From 2001 To Present


Senior Advisor



Vetoes Issued



















110th [thru 11-8-07]












Instead Of Prioritizing Spending And Passing Bills The President Can Sign Into Law, Democrats In Congress Have Been "Wasting Time"

Counselor To The President Ed Gillespie: Congress is "just not getting the job done that the American people need for them to do." (Fox News' "Big Story," 11/8/07)

  • "They spent this past week debating whether or not to impeach Vice President Cheney."

  • "The Judiciary Committee actually moved forward a … criminal contempt resolution against the President's lawyer and his chief of staff."

  • "They are going to hold now, apparently, another series of anti-Iraq votes, after wasting much of the spring and summer on votes to impose an artificial timeline on our troops in combat."

Gillespie: In the meantime, Congress stalled action on appropriations bills resulting in "the longest time in 20 years that we've gone into a fiscal year without getting a bill to the President's desk."

  • "The President called for an energy bill back in his State of the Union address … in January, and … they have yet to get an energy bill that increases production [of alternative energy sources] anywhere."

  • "They have yet to respond to the President's call back in August that we do something to help homeowners who may be facing foreclosures because of difficulties."

  • "The Congress has yet to get an SCHIP bill to help fund poor children's health insurance to the President's desk that he can sign, although he has asked repeatedly that they work with his Administration to find common ground on this important issue."

George W. Bush, Setting the Record Straight: Congress Refuses to Compromise on Excessive Spending Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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