Friday, November 09, 2007

First Bush Veto Override In Seven Years

The Senate has surprised President Bush today with a vote to override his veto of a $25 billion water funding bill. It's a first for the Senate, and a remarkable show of defiance against the increasingly anti-democratic Bush administration.

Let's wait and see if this just a freak occurrence before anyone begins claiming that lawmakers are now standing up to Bush. No one can deny it's a good sign of how 2008 might play out, however :

A year after Democrats won control of Capitol Hill, Congress delivered its clearest victory yet over President Bush today, resoundingly overturning Bush's veto of a $23 billion water resources measure -- the first veto override of his presidency.

The Senate voted to override the veto, 79-14, with 34 Republicans abandoning the president and just 12 standing by him. The Senate vote followed one in the House, which rejected the veto Tuesday, 361-54. Both votes were well over the two-thirds majorities needed to defy Bush.

"I hope that the Congress feels good about what we've done," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "I believe in the institution of the legislative branch of government. I think it should exist, and for seven years, this man has ignored us."

"We have said today as a Congress to this president, 'You can't just keep rolling over us like this. You can't make everything a fight, because we'll see it through'," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a primary architect of the law.

Today's override marks only the 107th time that Congress has overridden a presidential veto in the nation's history. Congress overrode two of Bill Clinton's 22 vetoes and just one of George H.W. Bush's 44 vetoes. Gerald R. Ford, who vetoed 66 bills, and Harry S. Truman, who vetoed 250, each had 12 overridden, the most of any president other than Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century.

As obscure as the Water Resources Development Act may be, Congress's action sets the stage for much larger spending and tax fights to come in the next few weeks. The House tonight is scheduled to send Bush a $151 billion measure to fund federal health, education and labor programs, a bill that Bush has promised to veto because it exceeds his request by nearly $10 billion.

The Senate is likely to give final approval to a $459.3 billion defense spending this evening as well, one that increases defense spending by $35.7 billion -- or 9.5 percent -- over last fiscal year. Bush is expected to sign that legislation.

Democrats made clear today they will relentlessly compare the president's willingness to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defense and war, while he rejects much smaller increases for domestic spending.