In Speech, Bush to Pledge Vetoes to Slow Earmarks
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: January 28, 2008
WASHINGTON — President Bush will veto spending bills this year unless they halve the amount of money earmarked for lawmakers’ pet projects, and he will order agencies to ignore future earmarks unless they are explicitly listed in the text of legislation, the White House said Monday.
Mr. Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, said these actions, to be announced in the State of the Union address on Monday night, were “unprecedented steps” to prevent wasteful earmarks.
Some fiscal conservatives in Congress and many outside groups, like Taxpayers for Common Sense, had urged Mr. Bush to issue an executive order disregarding thousands of earmarks itemized in Congressional reports that accompanied spending bills for the current fiscal year.
Mr. Bush decided against that step, which would have caused a political uproar on Capitol Hill. He will issue an executive order on Tuesday, Ms. Perino said, but it will apply only to future earmarks.
The White House said the executive order would direct federal agencies to “ignore any future earmark that is not voted on and included in a law approved by Congress.”
Most earmarks — more than 90 percent — are not in the text of bills presented to the president for his approval, but in reports that accompany the legislation. In several decisions over the years federal courts have ruled that congressional instructions included in reports but not in legislative text are not binding on the executive branch.
It's about time.