Western Gop Looks To Spare Defense Cuts Nethercutt, Kempthorne Say Clinton Is Being Shortsighted
A day after President Clinton wielded the line-item veto to kill 38 military construction projects around the country, Western Republicans began an effort to revive the spending. GOP leaders showed little enthusiasm.
At the same time, the administration said Clinton will consider restoring some of the projects in the future. The president believes many of the vetoed items are worthy but could not be fit into this year’s budget, said Lawrence Haas, spokesman for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
“We’re open to revisiting most if not all the projects in some future context,” Haas said.
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., said in an interview that three House colleagues told him that administration officials have promised that their vetoed projects will be included in the president’s budget next year. He would not identify them, and Haas declined comment.
The widespread perception in Congress, however, is that many vetoed projects will get a second life.
“Most projects line-item vetoed, I’ll make the flat prediction today, will be built within three years,” said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Overriding the president’s vetoes would take two-thirds majorities of the House and Senate, margins lawmakers concede would be extremely hard to achieve.
Even so, Sen. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Rep. Joe Skeen of New Mexico introduced legislation restoring all 38 military construction projects in 26 states. The included a $9.2 million B-1 bomber avionics building and a $3.8 million F-15C fighter facility at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho and a $6.9 million upgrade to a launch pad at the White Sands missile range in Skeen’s district.
“President Clinton is flat wrong when he said the projects can’t make a contribution to our national defense in the coming year,” Kempthorne said.
Although no additional projects from Washington state were lined out, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., said he would vote for the override which he expects to come before the House this week. Clinton’s action undercuts congressional decisions on spending, he said.
“I think the Congress made studied judgments about the value of the projects in the bill,” Nethercutt said. “I think those projects are meritorious.”
But GOP leaders showed no signs of relishing a battle.
“We gave it to him, and we expected him to use it,” House Republican leader Dick Armey told reporters, referring to the president’s new power to kill individual items in spending bills.
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