U.S. House Overrides Bush's Water Bill Veto


11-07-07, 10:08 am

BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The U.S. House of Representatives set the stage for what could be the first override of a President Bush veto Tuesday when Republicans and Democrats joined forces and voted 361-54 to approve a $23.2 billion water resources bill.

'I must respectfully disagree with President Bush's veto of this important and long overdue water resources development act,' said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the top Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in explaining the rare rebellion of the GOP faithful toward the president.

The vote was well over the two-thirds majority needed to negate a presidential veto. The Senate, which approved the bill 81-12 in September, could cast its override vote as early as Wednesday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Bush's argument that the bill is fiscally irresponsible rings hollow when the White House is asking for an additional 200 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Fiscally responsible people maintain their infrastructure,' he said. 'Fiscally responsible people know that clean water and safe harbors aid our commerce and the health of our people.'

Bush did not veto a single bill during the first five years of his presidency, when Congress was mainly in GOP hands. He has since vetoed a stem cell research bill twice, an Iraq spending bill that set guidelines for troop withdrawal and a children's health insurance bill. He vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, on Nov. 2, saying it was too expensive.

The bill, the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000, would cost $11.2 billion over the next four years and $12 billion in the 10 years after that, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate is expected to approve the veto override by a comfortable margin. Last month, some 20 Senate Republicans, including conservatives such as David Vitter, R-La., and Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., wrote Bush urging him to support the bill.

'Hurricane Katrina and the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota are two recent examples of the dangers in under-investing in our nation's key infrastructure,' they wrote.

From XinhuaNet