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Congress and White House at Odds over Pork Barrel Funding

November 15, 2007 07:04 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
President Bush used his veto for the fifth time to block an appropriations bill he said was laden with “pork”; Democrats say he is politicizing an issue to which they have brought greater transparency.

30-Second Summary

On Nov. 13, President George W. Bush said Congress was “acting like a teenager with a new credit card."

The president was explaining his decision to veto a funding bill for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services—a veto that was overridden by the Senate the next day.

President Bush said that the bill was larded with $10 billion in unnecessary earmarks and far exceeded his recommendations. Also known as “pork,” earmarks are attached by congressmen to appropriations bills to direct money to pet projects, circumventing established budgetary procedures.

Since Democrats won the majority in Congress, President Bush has railed against pork barrel politics and repeatedly called for fiscal prudence.

Indeed, earmarks have become the cause du jour in the capital. In The Washington Post last week, syndicated columnist Robert Novak detailed the Democrats’ attempt to tie the Labor/HHS bill to a separate one funding military construction, and thus force the president to sign into law legislation he would prefer to block.

On the other hand, a Nov. 13 Los Angeles Times article observes that it is the use of the presidential veto, not earmarks, that is the new development in Congress. “Bush signed at least 50 spending bills passed by Republicans that exceeded his budget requests, according to House Appropriations Committee records. He did not veto a single one,” writes the Times.

Democrats such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who wrote on the issue for The New York Times, argue that their party has brought greater transparency to the use of earmarks. As of this year, congressmen have to make public the details of their relationship with every beneficiary.

Headline Links: Pork and the fifth veto

History: Earmarked spending since 1991

Opinion & Analysis: Democrats and Republicans fight over pork

Related Topics: Lawmakers and

Reference Material: The facts on earmarks


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