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Bush signs $555 billion (euro386 billion) bill to fund government operations into next year

Bush signs $555 billion (euro386 billion) bill to fund government operations into next year

President George W. Bush signed a $555 billion (euro386 billion) bill Wednesday that will pay for the Iraq war well into next year and keep government agencies running through September.
Bush's signature on the massive spending bill capped a long-running battle with the Democratic-run Congress and came before the president left his Maryland mountaintop retreat and flew to his Texas ranch here to see in the new year.
The war-making money marked a significant political victory for Bush. Democrats took both chambers of Congress from Bush's Republicans in last year's parliamentary elections with promises to end the Iraq war.
Their tiny majority in the Senate proved ineffectual against delaying tactics by Republicans that under Senate rules required 60 of the 100 senators' votes to stop. At the same time, neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives had the two-thirds majority required to overcome a Bush veto; some Republicans sided with the Democrats on war-ending measures but not enough to override.
Bush had deep reservations about billions of dollars the bill would spend for pet projects of various lawmakers, his spokesman said, but signed it into law nevertheless.
"The omnibus (bill) funds the government at responsible levels that the president proposed without raising taxes," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters traveling to Texas with Bush for a holiday vacation.
Stanzel said that although Bush signed the bill, he still is "disappointed with Congress' addiction to earmarks," the extra spending on individual congress members' projects.
"And soon the president will outline his fiscal year 2009 budget proposal," the spokesman added, "which will hold the line on spending, keep taxes low and continue us on the path to a balanced budget."
A fuller Bush statement on the bill was expected later Wednesday, Stanzel said.
Bush, who had used his veto power to remain relevant in the debate with Democrats on national spending priorities, had agreed to sign the measure, which includes $70 billion (euro48.6 billion) for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, after winning concessions on Iraq and other budget items. The bill bankrolls 14 Cabinet departments and federal agencies and finances foreign aid for the budget year that began Oct. 1.
Bush and his Senate Republican allies forced the Iraq money upon anti-war Democrats as the price for permitting the year-end budget deal to pass and be signed.
Democrats tried to use war spending legislation to force a change in Bush's Iraq policy, chiefly by setting a withdrawal goal with dates such as Dec. 15, 2009. But Bush and Republicans held a powerful hand. They knew Democrats would not let money lapse for troops overseas. That allowed a Bush veto in May and Republican stalling to determine the outcome.
Bush had complained about more than 9,000 "special interest" earmarks that he had found in the bill.
But when asked Wednesday whether the president had included any kind of accompanying statement with the signed legislation, Stanzel said one would be forthcoming, noting that Bush already had asked for options the White House might have to cancel some or a large degree of that spending.
"So no decisions have been made on that front," Stanzel added, "but certainly as you noted in the president's press conference last week, he talked about directing the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) director, Jim Nussle, to look at ways _ or look at avenues by which the federal government can address those earmarks."
"The signing statement will _ or the statement by the president, rather, will note out dissatisfaction with continued addiction to earmarks," Stanzel said.


Updated : 2021-08-06 02:58 GMT+08:00