President Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, on Tuesday vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats....
The president's action was announced on Air Force One as Bush flew to New Albany, Ind., on the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., for a speech criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.
In excerpts of his remarks released in advance by the White House, Bush hammered Democrats for what he called a tax-and-spend philosophy....
More than any other spending bill, the $606 billion education and health measure defines the differences between Bush and majority Democrats. The House fell three votes short of winning a veto-proof margin as it sent the measure to Bush.
Rep. David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, pounced immediately on Bush's veto.
"This is a bipartisan bill supported by over 50 Republicans," Obey said. "There has been virtually no criticism of its contents. It is clear the only reason the president vetoed this bill is pure politics."
Since winning re-election, Bush has sought to cut the labor, health and education measure below the prior year level. But lawmakers have rejected the cuts. The budget that Bush presented in February sought almost $4 billion in cuts to this year's bill.
Democrats responded by adding $10 billion to Bush's request for the 2008 bill. Democrats say spending increases for domestic programs are small compared with Bush's pending war request totaling almost $200 billion....
First, don't panic. This has been expected for months and the fight is not over. Here's a reminder from my November newsletter: "There are two reasons not to despair if President Bush vetoes the LHHS appropriations bill later this month. If Congress overrides the veto, then the OA mandate language will become law. Just like that. If Congress fails to override the veto, and modifies the LHHS appropriation instead, then the OA mandate is likely to survive intact." (See the rest of the newsletter for details on both possibilities.)
Also expected: Bush vetoed the bill for spending more than he wants to spend, not for its OA provision.
Second, it's time for US citizens to contact their Congressional delegations again. This time around, contact your Representative in the House as well as your two Senators. The message is: vote yes on an override of the President's veto of the LHHS appropriations bill. (Note that the LHHS appropriations bill contains much more than the provision mandating OA at the NIH.)
The override votes --one in each chamber-- haven't yet been scheduled. They may come this week or they may be delayed until after Thanksgiving. But they will come and it's not too early to contact your Congressional delegation. For the contact info for your representatives (phone, email, fax, local offices), see CongressMerge.
Please spread the word!
Update. If you want some language, Charles Bailey has put together a very good message that you may cut/pastea into an email or web form. (Thanks, Charles.)
Peter Suber at 11/13/2007 11:46:00 AM.
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