With Dem majority, vetoes are more likely
Experts are bracing for a possible onslaught of vetoes from the president.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has vetoed just one bill in nearly six years in office. That soon may change.
As newly empowered Democrats forge ahead with their own agenda, some items may make it to his desk as prime candidates for veto.
One might be a recycled version of the stem-cell funding bill that drew Bush's lone veto last July. Other possibilities include measures that would raise the minimum wage without offsetting tax breaks for businesses, fully put in place the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations and curb oil-industry subsidies.
The Democratic takeover of Congress and the planned 100-hour burst of legislation sent parliamentary experts in both the administration and Congress scurrying to dust off the manual on vetoes and to brace for a possible onslaught.
In the new Congress, just days old, promises of bipartisanship still fill the air. Such pledges, however, may be put to the test in no time.
With Iraq overshadowing everything, any attempts by lawmakers to cut funds or intrude on Bush's war-making decisions could invite veto talk. Bush is set to announce a new Iraq strategy this week in a speech expected to call for more troops and aid.
Democratic leaders have not expressly threatened to use Congress' purse-string powers to alter the course of the war. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were quick to signal that the days of a free hand are over for the Republican president.
In the November elections, voters "rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end," Pelosi said. For Reid, "no issue in this country is more important than finding an end to this intractable war."
The odds on vetoes always have favored presidents, no matter which party controls Congress. There have been 2,551 presidential vetoes since George Washington became president in 1789. Only 106 have been overridden.
'Won't hesitate to veto'
Bush will seek common ground with Democrats on issues such as the minimum wage, education legislation and immigration overhaul, but "he won't hesitate to veto things he doesn't like," GOP strategist Charlie Black said.
Even more bills might draw vetoes if not for a procedural rule in the 100-member Senate that makes it hard for contentious legislation to pass without 60 votes -- instead of a simple majority of 51. Thus, Republicans should be able to keep many veto-threatened bills from even making it to Bush.
While reaching out to Democrats, Bush also made it clear he will not abandon goals such as resisting efforts to roll back his tax cuts and supporting the fragile Iraqi government. He also emphasizes that the majority party can push through its bills but "the Constitution leaves it to the president to use his judgment whether they should be signed into law."
White House officials are not telegraphing specific possible vetoes in advance, though they are studying possible candidates.
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