WASHINGTON – President Bush on Monday criticized the Democratic-led Congress for failing to pass spending bills on time, saying they might be trying to "sneak in all kinds of special projects."
Democrats said Bush has no room to talk. "After running up $3 trillion in new debt including more than half a trillion dollars for his flawed Iraq policy it is astounding that the president is once again lecturing Congress about fiscal responsibility and fiscal priorities," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The charges and countercharges came as Congress faces a weekend deadline for approving 12 appropriation bills to keep the government operating in the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. Congress regularly fails to meet the deadline, but keeps the government running by passing temporary spending bills known as continuing resolutions.
Bush said that if lawmakers need more time, they should pass a "clean continuing resolution."
"Under a clean continuing resolution, the government would continue to operate at current funding levels while the Congress works on the annual appropriations bills," he said. "The principle should be that there would be no new spending, no new policies, no new projects, unless the president and Congress agree in advance on a specific item."
Bush said congressional leaders "may end up lumping all 12 outstanding appropriations bills into one massive trillion-dollar piece of legislation later this year. This would make it easier for members to sneak in all kinds of special projects, put in wasteful spending or pork barrel that they are not willing to debate in the open."
Noting that he has the power of the veto, Bush said, "If they think that by waiting until just before they leave for the year to send me a bill that is way over budget and thicker than a phone book, if they think that's going to force me to sign it, it's not. This would be bad for our country, it would be harmful for our economy, it would be unfair for the taxpayers."
Responding to Bush, Reid said Democrats are "investing in the priorities of America's middle class families, veterans and children, and are dedicated to fighting terror more effectively; President Bush wants to continue investing only in Iraq."
"The only things harmful to our economy and unfair for the taxpayers are President Bush's misguided priorities — billions for Iraq and tax breaks for multimillionaires," Reid said. "It is time for President Bush and Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats to put the middle class first."