Many conservatives in the Republican base have been complaining about what appears to be out-of-control spending by Congress. Now, according to a Washington Times article posted on WashingtonTimes.com, congressional Republicans and conservative activists say that the President needs to not only threaten to use his veto power, but to actually use it.
Bush’s use of the veto against the Democratically controlled Congress could bring some badly needed support for the Republicans as they face the upcoming election.
The Times quoted Pat Toomey, who heads the Club for Growth, a group pushing for tax cuts, “Republicans need for the president to pick a fight with Democrats over spending so they can begin the process of rebuilding the brand that they have squandered-that they’re the party of smart spending and small government.”
House Republicans have taken a step in that direction. They used what amounted to a filibuster to put off a vote on a Homeland Security Department appropriations bill that, at $36 billion, was $2 billion more than the President’s budget had requested. The “filibuster” consisted of Republicans offering dozens of amendments to reduce spending, according to the Times.
Taking up the battle, the House Republican caucus is asking Republicans to vote against any fiscal measures that exceed the President’s budget. “Conservatives are united in our effort to protect American taxpayers, ” Representative Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who chairs the caucus, told the Times.
Republicans, who controlled Congress during George W. Bush’s first six years in office, did little to resist the record spending levels initiated by the President. Military and domestic spending have both soared. Bush has not used his veto on any spending bill sent to him by Congress, but has allowed billions of dollars worth of pork-barrel spending to pass into law. One notorious example of pork was a bill for a “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska which would have cost $233 million, although that project was later killed as a result of public outrage.
Although Democrats have instituted pay-as-you-go budgets, the plan, which sounds fiscally conservative, will ultimately mean higher taxes, say Republicans.
For their part, Democrats say that they are only addressing and funding important and pressing needs, claiming that the Republicans have ignored such things as energy, the environment, and national security. Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, is quoted by the Times as saying, “After six years of inattention and inaction on these crucial objectives, Democrats will provide the American public with the lasting results they demand, and we will do it in a fiscally responsible manner.”