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Bush Vetoes Health and Education Spending Bill

In a move bound to escalate his budget battle with Congress, President Bush vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs Tuesday.

But he also signed an increase in the Pentagon's non-war budget despite complaints it contained "some unnecessary spending."

The president used his veto power ahead of a speech in New Albany, Ind., criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.

The $606 billion education and health program is loaded with some 2,000 earmarks — lawmaker-sponsored projects that critics call pork-barrel spending — President Bush wants stripped from the bill.

"Some of its wasteful projects include a prison museum, a sailing school taught aboard a catamaran and a Portuguese-as-a-second-language program," the president said. "Congress owes the taxpayers much better than this effort."

It was sixth bill vetoed by President Bush.

Congress has overridden his veto only once, on a politically popular water projects measure.

The president chided Democrats for what he called a tax-and-spend philosophy: "The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager with a new credit card."

The House fell three votes short of winning a veto-proof margin as it sent the measure to President Bush.

But Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was quick to criticize the veto: "This is a bipartisan bill supported by over 50 Republicans."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added that President Bush "again vetoed a bipartisan and fiscally responsible bill that addresses the priorities of the American people: education for our children, assistance in paying skyrocketing energy costs, veterans' health care, and other urgent health research on cancer and other serious medical problems."

Since winning re-election, President Bush has sought to cut the labor, health and education measure below the prior year level. The budget he presented in February sought almost $4 billion in cuts to this year's bill.

Democrats responded by adding $10 billion to the president's request for the 2008 bill. Democrats say spending increases for domestic programs are small compared with President Bush's pending war request totaling nearly $200 billion.

The $471 billion defense budget gives the Pentagon a 9 percent, $40 billion budget increase. The measure only funds core department operations, omitting President Bush's $196 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for an almost $12 billion infusion for new troop vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs.

Much of the increase in the defense bill is devoted to procuring new and expensive weapons systems, including $6.3 billion for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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