House Override of Labor Appropriations Veto Falls Two Votes Short

U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., implored his colleagues last night to override President Bush's veto of the $151 billion Labor/HHS/Education FY2008 appropriations bill, but the Democrats fell two votes short of his goal. The override failed on a 277-141 vote, with all of the 141 votes to sustain the veto coming from Republicans. Seven Democrats and eight Republicans did not vote. Obey chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Five of the Republicans who voted with the Democrats to override the veto are members of the Labor/HHS/Education/Related Agencies subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee; the most senior GOP member of the subcommittee, Rep. Jim Walsh of New York, voted to override while simultaneously leading Bush's fight to sustain it. Walsh said afterward he hopes sustaining the veto has opened the door for a compromise.

The Senate's majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said yesterday he plans to send an omnibus appropriations bill to the president when Congress returns in December from a two-week Thanksgiving break starting today. Reid indicated the omnibus bill will split the difference between the president's requests and congressionally passed amounts, and Walsh and other Republicans said this could solve the FY2008 funding impasse. The Labor/HHS/Education bill is $6 billion above Bush's request, so splitting the difference would mean a $3 billion reduction. Obey said before last night's vote that such a cut will remove $700 million slated for medical research, $290 million for vocational education, $400 million for special education, and more.

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