Clinton Cuts Off Congress’ Cash Holds Up Budget Until Executive Branch Funding Is Approved
In a largely symbolic move to needle the Republican-run Congress into budget compromise, President Clinton Tuesday vetoed the legislators’ spending bill for their own fiscal 1996 operations.
At the same time, Clinton signed Congress’ $11.1 billion appropriation for new military construction despite his protest that $70 million of it is unneeded.
Clinton’s veto message, the third of his presidency, was not all negative: He praised the $2.2 billion legislative-branch appropriation as “a disciplined bill” because it chopped $200 million, or 8.6 percent, from 1995 spending for congressional staffing, mail, office accounts and support services.
But Clinton complained that Congress had passed only two of 13 spending bills needed by Oct. 1 to keep the government running.
He said it was wrong for lawmakers to fund themselves while the executive branch sputtered along under a stopgap “continuing resolution” at 90 percent of 1995 spending levels.
“The president just feels that it’s inappropriate for Congress to take care of Congress and leave everybody else hanging,” White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.
McCurry said Clinton would sign off on the money to run Congress “after they have completed the people’s work.” For their part, congressional Republican leaders have explained they cut their own houses first to set an example of sacrifice.
The White House’s operations money is snagged in a conference.
McCurry said the president’s veto was meant to prod Republicans into giving ground in appropriations fights and on an overall budget reconciliation bill that sets the two sides at odds over Medicare, Medicaid, education and other priorities.
Recently, McCurry said, there have been “some pretty pathetic examples of Congress standing fast and not being willing to compromise.”
On the bill for new Defense Department facilities, McCurry said Clinton would have used a line-item veto, if Congress had kept a promise to give him one, on $70 million in low-priority projects. “You might describe them as pork, and they would oink appropriately,” he said.