WASHINGTON – President Bush still thinks a bill forcing his administration to temporarily stop acquiring oil for its emergency stockpile is a bad idea, but he'll sign it anyway, a spokesman said Monday.
"The president is not going to stand in their way on this bill," said deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel.
In a bipartisan rebuke, the Senate last week voted 97-1 and the House 385-25 for the legislation. The White House said it expected to receive it later Monday.
Earlier, the White House had vowed to veto such a measure.
"He remains against it," Stanzel said. So why is he signing it? "I think he saw the overwhelming numbers of members of Congress who want to attempt to have an impact on prices by stopping the fill of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."
Sponsors of the bill said they hoped to lower energy prices. But the administration said the amount of oil involved, about 76,000 barrels a day, was relatively small and would have no effect on gas prices.
"Congress keeps ... going from Band-Aid to Band-Aid that they think will have an impact but really won't," Stanzel said.
Not waiting for the bill to be enacted, the administration on Friday suspended oil deliveries into the reserve — in underground caverns in Texas and Louisiana — for the rest of the year.