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Bush, Republicans Clash With Democrats Over Spending


Democrats controlling Congress have responded sharply to President Bush who accused them of failing to deliver major spending legislation. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

In remarks at the White House, the president accused majority Democrats of wasting time with investigations while failing to move major appropriations measures that fund government operations.

Though the 2008 fiscal year began October 1, annual spending legislation has not reached the president's desk, where he would either sign or veto them.

Republicans were responsible of slow action on spending bills when they controlled Congress, but they and the president are doing everything they can to highlight the current bottleneck under the Democrats.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell spoke after weekly Republican policy discussions.

"One of the principal promises the new Democratic majority made was that they were going to do it differently," said Mitch McConnell. "They were going to get the job done on time, that didn't happen. They were going to send individual appropriations bills, that didn't happen. Here we are, the fiscal year ended September 30th [and] not one single appropriations bill on the desk of the president. The hypocrisy of that I think is stunning."

Democrats fired back, repeating their tactic of contrasting the president's veto of key bills such as one to fund children's health insurance, with spending on the war in Iraq.

Harry Reid is Senate majority leader:

"We feel very comfortable fighting for America's priorities," said Harry Reid. "We feel very uncomfortable listening to the president talk about what we are doing that is wrong, when we know that the main problem we have in America today is the inordinate amount of time, effort and money being spent in an intractable civil war in Iraq which has destabilized that region and dropped our standing in the world community."

House and Senate appropriators are expected to meet Thursday to discuss a possible catch-all measure including three separate bills for the Pentagon, Veterans Administration, and domestic health and education spending.

However, the president says he would veto such a measure, asserting that Democrats want to hold military funding hostage in order to force his hand on domestic spending:

"I will veto such a three bill pile-up," said President Bush. "Congress should pass each bill one at a time in a fiscally-responsible manner that reflects agreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch."

In a news conference Tuesday, House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer accused the president of obstructionism on children's health legislation, a revised version of which is now pending before the Senate, and urged him to drop his veto threats.

"We think our priorities are right," said Steny Hoyer. "We think the American public support our priorities, and we would ask the president [to] sign these bills which will make America a stronger, better place, keep our faith with our veterans and our military, keep our country strong and keep our kids educated and our families healthy."

President Bush Tuesday said Democratic leaders were irresponsible for delaying action on his $196-billion emergency request for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats say they won't act on that until they see President Bush endorsing a significant change in his Iraq strategy.

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