The Senate overwhelmingly handed Bush a veto override on Thursday on the $23 billion water projects measure which affect various areas across the country.
The vote was 79 to 14, far more than the two-thirds needed to override the veto that President Bush cast last Friday. Only 12 Republicans voted against the measure, and just two Democrats, Senators Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
On Tuesday, the House voted by 361 to 54 in favor of the bill, also well over the two-thirds barrier to nullify the veto.
Enactment of the water projects measure had been widely expected, despite the veto, given the importance of the bill to individual districts and, of course, the lawmakers that represent them. The measure embraces huge endeavors like restoration of the Florida Everglades and relief to hurricane-stricken communities along the Gulf Coast and smaller ones like sewage-treatment plants, dams and beach protection that are important to smaller constituencies.
The bill authorizes the projects but does not appropriate the money for them. Appropriation of funds will have to be taken care of in subsequent legislation.
Bush’s veto of the water bill was his 5th veto, and this was the first to be overridden by Congress. Now that they’ve gotten this one out of the way, Congress needs to rachet it up a few notches and make certain that Bush doesn’t get away with any more vetos. It’s time to really send Bush the message loud and clear that: Enough Is Enough.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said the veto override “sends an unmistakable message that Democrats both will continue to strengthen our environment and economy and will refuse to allow President Bush to block America’s real priorities for partisan reasons.”
“The Water Resources Development Act provides authority for essential new navigation projects and funds programs to combat flood and coastal-storm damage, restore ecosystems, and projects guided by the Army Corps of Engineers essential to protecting the people of the Gulf Coast region,” Mr. Reid said.