The Clinton administration privately notified Congress on Friday to brace for another round of military line-item vetoes next week, cuts the Pentagon’s No. 2 official said could make lawmakers “white-hot mad.”
John Hamre, deputy secretary of defense, compiled a list of 70 projects and programs - totaling about $300 million - that are possible veto candidates and about which the administration wants additional information.
Among programs on the list: funds for converting two military bases in California to civilian use, for developing a military “space plane” and for modernizing National Guard aircraft.
The “list of items for potential veto” was included in a memo to top staff members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo.
At issue is a $248 billion defense spending bill sent to President Clinton late last month. Clinton must decide next week whether to exercise his line-item veto powers on the measure.
Clinton is the first president to exercise the line-item veto, passed by the Republican-led Congress in late 1996. His use of the power earlier this month to kill 38 spending items in a military construction appropriations bill has drawn fierce fire from congressional critics.
“I have to get the cards out on the table,” Hamre said in the memo. “We are working on the line-item veto issue for the defense bill. I know that is going to make everybody white-hot mad.”
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Friday that Clinton had not made up his mind on any additional line-item vetoes, but would soon “be receiving some sort of recommendation from his advisers.”