- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

Republicans, in a letter to the White House yesterday, promised to stick to their commitment to fiscal discipline.
"Since we agree that spending needs to be controlled, we, the undersigned, encourage you to exercise your constitutional power to veto appropriations bill that you believe are inconsistent with our shared budgetary objectives," wrote 150 of 222 House Republicans to President Bush. Thirteen of 35 Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee signed the letter.
Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, said the letter "sends an unambiguous signal to House and especially Senate Democrats that we are serious about controlling spending."
Mr. Hayworth said Mr. Clinton used the threat of a veto to "extort higher spending from a reluctant Congress."
"President Bush can be equally effective in using his veto … to rein in out-of-control government spending," he said.
Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said Republicans are being hypocritical, "claiming to have a 'commitment to fiscal discipline' despite the fact that they are simultaneously pushing a massive overbudget increase in defense."
The White House has yet to complete its top-down review of the military, but has asked for an extra $18 billion for defense in fiscal 2002.
Democrats also said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, who was one of the first signatories to the letter, had broken the Republicans' own budget goals by authoring an amendment for $1.3 billion in disaster relief, most of which would go to his state.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, also took umbrage with Republicans' remarks.
"Who's spending?" Mr. Byrd asked from the Senate floor yesterday. He noted that the one spending bill signed into law this year a supplemental spending bill for fiscal 2001 did not "spend one thin dime" more than was requested by the president.
Mr. Byrd accused congressional Republicans and the White House of trying to divert blame for the bad news likely to be delivered this month about the status of the surplus.
Projections to be released by the White House and the Congressional Budget Office are expected to show surpluses substantially smaller than previously expected.
"It is not traditional congressional spending that cut the surplus," Mr. Byrd said, "rather a Republican-led Congress, at the prodding of the administration, took a gamble and played the odds" on a 10-year, $1.3 trillion tax cut.
House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, Iowa Republican, said "the problem is spending." He noted that since 1998, spending has increased from $1.65 trillion to $1.96 trillion.
Mr. Hayworth agreed, saying that while discretionary spending increased $52 billion in fiscal 2001, taxes will be cut by $40 billion in the same year under the bill passed into law this spring.
Mr. Nussle said that when Congress returns from a monthlong break in September, he will propose legislation to cut spending to make up for federal revenues lost in the economic downturn. He said the specific cuts would be chosen by the White House.

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