President Clinton on Tuesday added the Republican rewrite of the Clean Water Act to his growing list of veto threats, accusing the House of colluding with industry to produce a “Dirty Water Act” that he vowed “won’t get past my desk.”
Despite White House acknowledgment that the Senate is likely to moderate the House-passed reauthorization of the country’s major water pollution control law, Clinton laid down a tough line in a speech in Washington’s Rock Creek Park.
He said House members “operating with major industry lobbyists have come up with a bill that would roll back a quarter-century of bipartisan progress” in health and environmental protection. He said the nation’s water quality “would go straight down the drain” if the legislation becomes law.
Clinton has threatened to veto five pieces of legislation in recent weeks and has expressed concern about a halfdozen others. He has pledged to veto a $16.5 billion spending cuts bill, an overhaul of civil litigation rules, the House version of foreign aid legislation and any attempt to lift the ban on assault weapons or to reduce the commitment for 100,000 additional police in last year’s crime bill.
But Republicans scoffed at the new Clinton veto threat and said it is evidence that the president is captive of the “environmental extremists” and engaging not in reasoned argument but “crude, primitive language.”
Clinton sternly recounted how lawyers and lobbyists “were invited into the back rooms of what once was your Congress to write a bill that provides loopholes for their industries.” He said if the legislation arrives on his desk, he would “happily and gladly” veto it.
The House passed the legislation May 16.