Bush, GOP Lawmakers and Pakistani Embassy Response to Obama

Does Bush Listen to GOP Lawmakers on Vetoes?

In recent weeks, conservatives have been cheered by the Administration’s threats to veto spending bills, most notably, that of the stepped-up State Children’s Health Insurance Program passed on a near-party line vote in the House last week. 

However, there is also some nervousness on Capitol Hill that President Bush and his staff are not consulting with the leaders of their own party on what to veto.  One case in point that was cited to me was the President’s veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is an authorization rather than a spending measure.  In taking the action he did, the President did not talk to Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), former chairman of the Senate Environment Committee and now its ranking Republican.

Mr. Bush’s apparent refusal to talk to Inhofe before the veto was something I brought up at yesterday’s press briefing at the White House.  I also asked Press Secretary Tony Snow whether the President consults with ranking Members of any Senate committees before he issues a veto. 

“Well, how do you know he didn’t consult Senator Inhofe?” Snow retorted. 

I replied: ‘’Senator Inhofe told me.” 

“Oh, I see, “ said Snow, as the James Brady Briefing Room broke into laughter, “The fact is — what would Senator Inhofe have recommended?” 

“Well,” I replied, “He would have recommended that he veto an appropriations bill, and not an authorization bill.”

Snow ducked the question as to whether the President talks to senators of his own party on possible vetoes, and countered with: “Let me just tell you our position on WRDA. It’s a classic case of what goes on in Washington. The Senate recommended a $14 billion increase for the Water Resources Development Act. The House recommends a $15 billion increase. They get together and they compromise on a $20 billion increase. Only in Washington do you split the difference between $14 billion and $15 billion by raising it to $20 billion. And I think the President wanted to make a pretty strong point about fiscal discipline. “

I tried again: “So will he veto other authorization measures before appropriations?”

Snow would only say “We’ll take a look. We’ll take a look.” 

White House, Pakistani Embassy Dismiss Obama Calls for Pakistani Invasion

Hours after Democratic Presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama made international headlines with his calls for invading Pakistan to eradicate terrorist camps if that nation failed to do it, the White House as well as the Pakistani embassy in the United States responded.

At the gaggle (early morning briefing) for reporters at the White House on Wednesday, I asked Press Secretary Tony Snow the Administration’s reaction to Obama’s position, which goes much further than anything the Bush Administration has done to finish international terrorists in the Middle East.

“Well, again,” replied Snow, “There are a lot of things that people are going to say on the campaign trail.  Our policy toward Pakistan and toward bin Laden and al Qaeda have been pretty consistent.  Number one, obviously Osama bin Laden remains somebody who is a priority for us. 

“Number two, it’s also clear that the Pakistanis are once again engaged in very serious efforts to go after al Qaeda and Taliban in their midst, especially in the federally administered tribal areas.  We’re going to do what we can to support them, what they need.  At the same time, we recognize the sovereignty of the Pakistani government and realize that they’re putting on a serious push.  As we pointed out, they now have upwards of 100,000 troops in the tribal areas.  They’re taking casualties, they’re taking the fight to al Qaeda.  That’s important, and we are ready to assist them in any ways they deem appropriate.”

The Pakistani government was much harsher in its response to Obama. M. Akram Shaheedi, information minister for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, told me: “Talks of U.S. troops in question in the Pakistan territory is unacceptable, as it would provoke a backlash among the people of Pakistan which would be detrimental not only for Pakistan, but also for the national security interests of the United States.  Such an action would certainly undermine Pakistan’s ability to cooperate in the campaign against terrorism.”