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Ten days ago, according to White House sources and individuals who attended the meeting, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card called a meeting with interested parties (mostly supporters) on the highway bill, which has been held up for close to two years in negotiations.
President Bush is on record as saying it will veto the larded legislation in its current form, which is reaching upwards of $300 billion in taxpayer-funded pork projects.
Republicans in both the House and the Senate had made attempts throughout the process to hold down the road appropriations, but, particularly in the Senate, amendments and sweet heart deals moved at a decent clip.
Upon hearing from Card that the President remained committed to a veto, members of Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM), a coalition of more than 50 interest groups and companies, did not take the news well. “They pretty much told Card a veto wasn’t going to matter, and dared him to let the President do it,” says an attendee at the meeting. “There are other bills the President should have vetoed before this one, and he didn’t. If he wants to be embarrassed and have that veto overridden, let him try.”
The consensus on Capitol Hill is that the highway bill almost certainly has the votes to override a Presidential veto. Couple that defeat with the White House’s ongoing challenges on Social Security reform, Iraq policy, and political appointments, and you have all the makings of a very ugly few months.
“President Bush doesn’t need a veto fight right now,” says a Capitol Hill lobbyist. “He’s going to have a tough go on the Central American Free Trade Agreement [CAFTA], and Social Security is stalled out. His people need to tell him to swallow hard and sign the highway bill.”
No sooner had Card been slapped around by the black-top folks, than the black-robe folks jumped on him over White House deliberations on potential Supreme Court nominees. Card was told by mostly conservative legal types that nomination of, say, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to the Supreme Court would be unacceptable, particularly if that nomination was to fill a slot left vacant by a conservative.p>The outreach efforts to conservatives is viewed as a positive step for a White House, but perhaps a little too late. “You look at something like the highway bill, and their legislative people should have been all over this months, years ago, working with us,” says a lobbyist working for a corporate ATM member. “They can’t just pull us in at the last minute and say that it’s their way or nothing. In this case, they were doomed to fail, and, frankly, they seemed surprised by what they heard from us, which was surprising to us. They should have known we wouldn’t roll over.” br> /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?