Top Democrat to Bush: Stop huffing and puffing
The Chairman of the House of Representatives' powerful Appropriations Committee has slammed President George W. Bush's threats to veto the war funding bill that House and Senate members are planning to work out in conference. Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI) insisted that the President stop "huffing and puffing" and find a compromise.
"The President needs to stop his huffing and puffing and recognize that he is no longer dealing with a rubber stamp Congress. There must be compromise," Obey said in a statement released to RAW STORY. "We have already adjusted our proposal by giving him a waiver on troop readiness. When are we going to hear any talk of reasonable compromise from him?"
Obey, whose committee plays a powerful role in drawing up government budgets, went on to describe the presidency as being in a state of "disarray."
"The President is simply thrashing out as a diversionary tactic to obscure the fact that he has no viable policy in Iraq or in the entire Middle East for that matter," he added. "We need to come together to fashion such a policy."
Yesterday, President Bush made the veto of the supplemental legislation out to be a foregone conclusion.
"If Democrat leaders in Congress are bent on making a political statement, then they need to send me this unacceptable bill as quickly as possible when they come back. I'll veto it, and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without delay," he said in the Tuesday press conference.
Top Democrats remained unwilling to discuss what will come after the veto.
"It's premature to talk about that," said Matt Mazonkey, spokesman for Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who chairs the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and has driven the push for limits on the President's ability to wage the war in Iraq.
"It's going to go to conference shortly, and let's see what's agreed upon," he added, and suggested that Senate and House conferees will discuss the supplemental on April 23 or 24.
But he said Murtha agrees with Obey's sentiments.
"This isn't a dictatorship, the Congressman says this is a partnership between the President and the Congress, which has a constitutional obligation to make sure our military is equipped and trained," Mazonkey added.
Murtha's spokesman did concede that House Democrats were looking at historical precedents on what happens when Presidents veto war budgets.
RAW STORY spoke with an expert on conflict between the executive and legislative branches, who pointed back to President Richard Nixon and the conclusion of the Vietnam War as an example of how the current scenario could play out.
"In 1973 when President Nixon vetoed a funding cut off for military operations in Southeast Asia, he did ultimately enter into negotiations with Congress to permit bombing for another 45 days," said Dr. Louis Fisher, who serves as special assistant to the Law Librarian at the Library of Congress. "And then that was the end of the money, so even if he wants to do a veto, it doesn't mean it would prevail."