Saturday :: Mar 8, 2003

GOP Congressman Nails Bush for Lying About Security Funding

by Steve

It looks like Bush is about to pay an admittedly small but noticeable price for Rove’s pathetic attempt at triangulation the other day when he tried to finger the Congress for his own inadequate homeland security funding. As you may recall, at his speech before the National Governors Association a couple of weeks back, Bush blamed Congress for not providing enough money for emergency responders and other related law enforcement needs.

But one GOP Congressman was not willing to let such a blame-shifting go away without firing one shot back to set the record straight:

A senior Republican lawmaker, firing back at President Bush for recent statements blaming Congress for underfunding emergency workers, accused the White House of factual inaccuracy and inadequate communication.

In an extraordinary departure from the public unity that has characterized White House relations with congressional Republicans, House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) wrote to urge White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. to "be responsible" and "move on from this pointless and harmful debate" over legislation passed last month that included money for "first responders" involved in homeland security.

Though lawmakers, even those in Bush's party, often chafe at the administration's hard-nosed tactics, the letter underscored the unusually raw feelings that have developed among House Republicans since Bush began blaming them for inadequate homeland security funds. Democrats have long criticized Bush for inaccurate statements on spending and other matters, but this is the most prominent case of a Republican accusing Bush of falsehoods.

"I believe White House statements that Congress only provided $1.3 billion for first responders are factually inaccurate because you have narrowly chosen programs that only you believe will support the first-responder community," Young wrote in the three-page letter accusing the White House of various contradictions and inconsistencies.

Young went on to take a shot at Mitch Daniels’ Office of Management and Budget:

"You can choose to continue the debate on this issue in this fashion, or we can be responsible and address the real issues facing first responders," Young wrote following a six-point critique. "It would be helpful to have a periodic exchange of information on this issue and other issues of importance to our country, instead of one-way directives from the Office of Management and Budget."

And Young specifically pointed out where the White House was being disingenuous in its criticism:

In his letter to Card, Young wrote that the spending bill passed by Congress for fiscal 2003 "includes $3.465 billion in funding to support the first-responder community." That figure includes "$900 million in law enforcement grants the administration sought to eliminate."

Young also complained that White House explanation of the first-responder initiative was just one paragraph. "The committee repeatedly sought additional information," he wrote. Attaching the one-paragraph justification, Young wrote: "You do not have to be an expert to know that this is inadequate."

Young noted that he and his staff had "direct conversations" with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge about the funding levels "in advance of the final bill," and they agreed to work to "communicate a unified message."

Oops. Looks like great White House staff work here. And it appears that Young isn’t willing to go quietly while Bush betrays their loyalty:

Congressional aides said Young is particularly irritated because he fought for more homeland security money in an emergency-spending bill in late 2001 but was turned down by the White House.

Also, they said, he was angered by Bush's move last year to impound $5.1 billion that had been included in the emergency measure, about $2.6 billion of which was for homeland security and $500 million for first responders. In addition, aides said, Young pleaded with Bush in December to allow the committee to spend more, but Bush refused. To keep the spending within Bush's requirements, GOP lawmakers fought amendments to increase spending on security -- and then felt that Bush betrayed their loyalty.

In the big scheme of things, most GOP congressman and Senators have shown that they would rather kiss Bush’s ass and be loyal lemmings even against the public’s interests. But this is noteworthy because Young is publicly sending a message here for next year. (the fact that the letter was released at all is interesting) That message is that Bush is lying, and he’d better not think about doing this again, because Young, and maybe others, are willing to “out” Bush on such smears from now on. Especially when Bush’s fingerprints are on the damning evidence.

Isn’t one-party control just great?

Steve :: 12:14 PM :: Comments (1) :: Digg It!