Saturday, July 02, 2005

House, Senate Agree on Bloated Highway Bill

The Washington Post reports that Congressional negotiators reached accord late Thursday on a $286.5 billion funding bill for highway and other transportation projects, with the Senate's conferees giving in significantly from that chamber's $295 billion version. The bill passed by the House clocked in at a mere $284 billion, and President Bush had said that he would veto any final product that exceeded that level. Apparently $2.5 billion over isn't enough to actually follow through on that threat, however: Congressional aides told the Post that the White House would accept the deal reached by the conferees.

This bill is little more than a collection of pork-barrel projects lumped together into a behemoth amalgam of home-state favors; the president could certainly find a worse place to wield his veto for the first time. Unfortunately, this as Bush's first veto would almost certainly result in the first veto override of Bush's presidency, since both houses of Congress are expected to pass the bill by a very wide margin (it was 89-11 in the Senate on May 17; 417-9 in the House on March 10). So the chances of a veto are slim to none, and even I'll admit it would be an insane move politically.

Deep deficits, rising costs of war funding, economy still somewhat sluggish ... and yet Congress still gives itself pay raises, and votes to spend like drunken sailors (a McCainism) on highways (and just about everything else).

Something's gotta give, sooner or later.


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