On the campaign trail President Bush blasted Sen. John Kerry for voting against $87 billion in funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Kerry was concerned that there wasn’t sufficient Congressional oversight over the disbursement of funds.) Here’s an excerpt from 9/2/04:
THE PRESIDENT: Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I proposed, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed, $87 billion in funding needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. My opponent and his running mate voted against this money for bullets, and fuel, and vehicles, and body armor.
THE PRESIDENT: When asked to explain his vote, the Senator said, “I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it.”
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE PRESIDENT: Then he said he was “proud” of that vote. Then, when pressed, he said it was a “complicated” matter. There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat.
As Bush noted, Kerry’s vote was ultimately inconsequential. The bill passed anyway. Now, President Bush is threatening to veto $94 billion in emergency spending that he proposed for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Bush is concerned that Congress has added too much additional spending for unrelated projects.) Here’s an excerpt from today’s White House press briefing:
QUESTION: And if that number that comes back in is over $94.5 billion, no question it will be vetoed?
MCCLELLAN: The president has made it very clear. He would veto legislation that goes above and beyond what he called for.
Bush’s veto threat may be appropriate. There are some shameful pork barrel projects tacked onto the Senate bill, including a $700 million “railroad to nowhere.”
It seems President Bush is learning that massive supplemental spending bills are complicated matters after all, not just an opportunity to score cheap political points.