Remember that military spending bill that Bush and Republicans were so happy to have pass Congress before the end of the year? Well, after months of harassing Congress for not acting quickly enough to support the troops, Bush is actually vetoing a military spending bill.
The veto was an embarrassment for administration officials, who struggled on Friday to explain why they had not acted earlier to object to the provision, Section 1083 of a 1,300-page, $696 billion military authorization bill. It would expand the ability of Americans to seek financial compensation from countries that supported or sponsored terrorist acts, including Libya, Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
It was unclear how the provision had been overlooked by White House lawyers.
I can tell you how they missed the provision: the bill was 1,300 pages. Who writes all of that?
While some lawmakers are accusing the administration of favoring the Iraqi government over Americans who are victims of terrorist attacks by fighting this provision that would make seeking compensation for the victims easier, I’m reserving my judgment. I’m not even going to pretend I know enough about international law to open up a can of worms like making it easier for individuals to sue a foreign country. However, it is noteworthy that it isn’t the principle that the White House opposes, but rather just holding Iraq accountable. Barring a full removal of the provision from the bill, the administration would simply want it changed to exempt Iraq, leaving countries like Iran and Libya still vulnerable to lawsuits.
Why this whole ordeal stinks:
- The bill passed with overwhelming support in both houses of Congress (370 to 49 in the House and 90 to 3 in the Senate). However, because Bush is using a pocket veto by allowing this to expire after sitting on his desk for 10 days, Congress will not have a chance to overrule the veto. So much for checks and balances.
- The House doesn’t return until January 15th. With the Senate returning a week later, this whole ordeal probably won’t be sorted out until early February. So much for the troops urgently needing this money.
We’ll keep you posted as more develops.
In Surprise Step, Bush is Vetoing a Military Bill – [New York Times]