Bush set to issue first veto
By Mark Preston
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush today will pull out his veto pen for the first time, striking down legislation that would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
His decision to block the bill from becoming law is a major win for social conservatives, who opposed the measure because they argued extracting stem cells would destroy the embryos and thus end a life. It is a major loss for proponents of the stem cell research including scientist, Democrats and many Republicans.
An administration official tells CNN's Dana Bash that Bush plans to veto the bill prior to making remarks on the issue. The House is then expected to bring the stem cell measure up for a veto override vote, which is likely to fail. The Senate approved the measure along a 63-37 margin Tuesday, but it is four votes short of overriding Bush's veto.
Celebrities, state lawmakers and even former First Lady Nancy Reagan have weighed in on the subject. While Reagan did not address Bush's pending veto, she did urge for the legislation to be signed into law.
"Time is short, and life is precious," she said, "and I hope this promising research can now move forward."
Despite pleas for the legislation to become law, White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters Tuesday that Bush considers himself "honor-bound" to veto the bill.
"There's one kind of research, and that is that which involves the destruction of human life, that he does not think is appropriate for the federal government to finance," Snow said. "He's been absolutely clear about it. There is no shading in it."
A historical look at the veto
President Bush will issue his first veto today, striking down legislation approved by the House and Senate to allow federally funded embryonic stem cell research. CNN's Robert Yoon reports that while some chief executives -- including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler -- never issued a veto, others wielded their veto pen early and often.
Below is some historical context, based on information provided by the U.S. Senate Historical Office, for Morning Grind veto enthusiasts:
Recent Presidents and their Vetoes
Clinton 37 total (2 overridden)
GHW Bush 44 total (1 overridden)
Reagan 78 total (9 overridden)
Carter 31 total (2 overridden)
Ford 66 total (12 overridden)
Nixon 43 total (7 overridden)
Presidential Veto Hall of Fame - Most Vetoes
F. Roosevelt 635 total (9 overridden)
Cleveland 584 total (7 overridden)
Truman 250 total (12 overridden)
Eisenhower 181 total (2 overridden)
Grant 94 total (4 overridden)
T. Roosevelt 82 total (1 overridden)
Reagan 78 total (9 overridden)
Ford 66 total (12 overridden)
Coolidge 50 total (4 overridden)
Presidential Veto Hall of Fame - Most Overridden Vetoes
Andrew Johnson 15 overridden out of 29 total
Gerald Ford 12 overridden out of 66 total
Harry Truman 12 overridden out of 250 total
Ronald Reagan 9 overridden out of 78 total
Franklin Roosevelt 9 overridden out of 635 total
Richard Nixon 7 overridden out of 43 total
Grover Cleveland 7 overridden out of 584 total
Reed loses; McKinney faces a runoff
Former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed lost his bid Tuesday for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, breathing new life into the suggestion that the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal could influence the November elections.
Reed, a long time friend of Abramoff, was hired by the once-powerful-now-disgraced lobbyist to run anti-gambling campaigns that were paid for by competing casinos. Reed, a skilled political tactician was expected to easily win the GOP nomination until his business connections to Abramoff were revealed. Reed's primary opponent, state Sen. Casey Cagle (R) used the information to convince Republican primary voters that Reed did not share their conservative values.
In another Georgia primary battle, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) is headed to an August 8 run-off against former county commissioner Hank Johnson after neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote. McKinney had 47 percent of the vote to Johnson's 45 percent. McKinney, who is no stranger to controversy, recently made headlines for an altercation with a U.S. Capitol Police officer. A grand jury failed to indict McKinney last month after the police officer alleged that she struck him when he didn't recognize her at a security check point. McKinney served in Congress from 1993 to 2003 when she was defeated in a Democratic primary. She won back the seat in 2004.
And current Lieutenant Gov. Mark Taylor (D) defeated Secretary of State Cathy Cox (D) for the right to challenge Gov. Sonny Perdue (D) in November.
Boehner will blast Democrats in Heritage speech
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will accuse Democrats of failing to provide answers to pressing issues such as the economy and the war on terror, in an afternoon speech at the Heritage Foundation.
"We believe in a future built on pillars of freedom and responsibility, in which the initiative of millions of Americans is unleashed to improve the quality of all our lives beyond what we can currently imagine," Boehner will say in his speech before the conservative think tank, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to the Grind. "Because we believe in that future, we're willing to do the hard work necessary to get there and provide solutions on the budget, to keep taxes low, to secure our nation's borders, and to win the global war on terror."
On the issue of national security, Boehner claims it is Republicans not Democrats who have the answers on how to protect the nation.
"It's important to note what separates Republicans from Capitol Hill Democrats," Boehner will say. "Republicans recognize the threat and have constructed policies reliant on strength and purpose. Democrats have instead blundered towards an empty and cosmetic mindset that underscores a shared devotion to a weak and indecisive foreign policy forever queasy about America's role in the world."
Boehner acknowledges that there are some Republicans who oppose reforming the earmark process, but he will blame Democrats for refusing to "join Republicans in exercising fiscal restraint." The Ohio Republican will also highlight the House GOP's tough stand on immigration reform, which is not supported by President Bush.
"House Republicans have worked to fix our broken immigration system by passing a strong bill that secures our borders and strictly enforces our laws," Boehner will say. "Real reform means re-establishing basic respect for America's immigration laws."
GOP unveils new border security and political webpages
House Republicans unveiled two new web pages that will appear on their www.gop.gov site, during this morning's weekly strategy meeting, a Republican aide tells the Grind. The first webpage "will serve as a clearinghouse for information about the House's hearings and findings on border security" (www.gop.gov/bordersecurity), while the second webpage criticizes Democrats for their legislative agenda (http://www.gop.gov/demagenda).
DAYAHEAD/Events making news today
POLITICAL HOT TOPICS
Compiled by CNN's Stephen Bach
WH WAITING "AT LEAST A FEW MORE DAYS BEFORE WADING INTO THE CONFLICT": The outlines of an American-Israeli consensus began to emerge on Tuesday in which Israel would continue to bombard Lebanon for about another week to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia, officials of the two countries said. Then, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the region and seek to establish a buffer zone in southern Lebanon and perhaps an international force to monitor Lebanon's borders to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining more rockets with which to bombard Israel. American officials signaled that Ms. Rice was waiting at least a few more days before wading into the conflict, in part to give Israel more time to weaken Hezbollah forces. New York Times: U.S. Appears to Be Waiting to Act on Israeli Airstrikes
"ANGER" FROM THE RIGHT OVER WH "TIMIDITY AND CONFUSION" IN FOREIGN POLICY: At a moment when his conservative coalition is already under strain over domestic policy, President Bush is facing a new and swiftly building backlash on the right over his handling of foreign affairs. Conservative intellectuals and commentators who once lauded Bush for what they saw as a willingness to aggressively confront threats and advance U.S. interests said in interviews that they perceive timidity and confusion about long-standing problems including Iran and North Korea, as well as urgent new ones such as the latest crisis between Israel and Hezbollah. Washington Post: Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush's Foreign Policy
BUSH'S FIRST VETO COMING TODAY? The Senate voted to lift restrictions on federally funded human embryonic stem cell research yesterday, setting the table for President Bush's first veto and producing an emotional campaign issue that Democrats believe will help them this fall. Senators voted 63 to 37 to approve a House-passed bill that would pour millions of dollars into a field of medical research that is promising -- but also controversial because it requires destroying human embryos to extract the cells... White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush's veto "will be pretty swift" once he receives the bill, possibly as soon as today. Washington Post: Senate Passes Stem Cell Bill; Bush Vows Veto
ROVE'S STEM CELL REMARK RULED "INACCURATE" BY EXPERTS: When White House political adviser Karl Rove signaled last week that President Bush planned to veto the stem cell bill being considered by the Senate, the reasons he gave went beyond the president's moral qualms with research on human embryos. In fact, Rove waded into deeply contentious scientific territory, telling the Denver Post's editorial board that researchers have found "far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."... Rove's negative appraisal of embryonic stem cell research--echoed by many opponents of funding for such research--is inaccurate, according to most stem cell research scientists, including a dozen contacted for this story. Chicago Tribune: Experts rip Rove stem cell remark
"AN UNUSUALLY DIRECT AND UNPRECEDENTED WHITE HOUSE INTERVENTION": President Bush effectively blocked a Justice Department investigation of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, refusing to give security clearances to attorneys who were attempting to conduct the probe, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday. Bush's decision represents an unusually direct and unprecedented White House intervention into an investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal affairs office at Justice, administration officials and legal experts said. It forced OPR to abandon its investigation of the role Justice officials played in authorizing and monitoring the controversial NSA eavesdropping effort, according to officials and government documents. Washington Post: Bush Thwarted Probe Into NSA Wiretapping
SQUEEZE SEEN 'ROUND THE WORLD: It's not exactly "Presidents Gone Wild!" but for the normally staid Group of Eight Summit, a video of President Bush sidling behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and delivering an impromptu neck rub is, well, as wild as it gets. The scene, captured by a Russian TV camera, hit the Internet like a summer wildfire Tuesday, and it may be most memorable for the German chancellor's reaction. Bush applies his hands to Merkel's shoulders and neck while she's speaking with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi; the chancellor hunches her shoulders, then throws her hands up to stop the unexpected massage with a wan smile -- and an expression that can best be translated as "Ewwww." While the incident didn't get a lot of play on major TV media, it was just one of the Bush G-8 gaffes that garnered considerable space in the blogosphere from London to Los Angeles. San Francisco Chronicle: Bush's unexpected squeeze of the German chancellor has the Internet howling
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WHY DOES DHS NEED A $227 BEER BREWING KIT? Flat-bottomed rescue boats at double the retail price, $68,500 worth of unused dog booties, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of computers that somehow disappeared and a $227 beer brewing kit. These are just a few of the questionable purchases that Congressional auditors have found by digging through half a year of credit card records from the Homeland Security Department, including records for the months immediately after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. The audit, by the Government Accountability Office, which is due to be released Wednesday, concluded that the credit card misuse could probably have been avoided had the department completed a long-planned rulebook for its more than 9,000 employees who spent $420 million last year using government-issued credit cards. New York Times: Homeland Security Department Is Accused of Credit Card Misuse
BUSH WILL ADDRESS NAACP FOR FIRST TIME AS PRESIDENT: President Bush plans to speak to the NAACP for the first time since he was a candidate, with the White House announcing the appearance days after the chairman of the civil rights group publicly urged him to attend. The president had declined invitations to the NAACP's annual meeting for five years in a row, and has often been criticized in speeches by the group's leaders. But under new NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon relations have improved. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush to address NAACP at 97th gathering
RALPH REED LOSES PRIMARY: Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, unable to overcome his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, conceded defeat Tuesday in Georgia's Republican race for lieutenant governor. Reed was making his first bid for elective office after working for years as a behind-the-scenes campaign strategist and leading the Christian Coalition and the state Republican Party. He vied with state Sen. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination in a primary race that appeared closer than expected in recent months because of Reed's work with Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption earlier this year. Savannah Morning News: Reed concedes to Cagle
McKINNEY IN TROUBLE? U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney is headed to a runoff against a relatively unknown challenger in a Democratic primary she was expected to win with ease. The controversial 4th District incumbent, accused of striking a Capitol Hill police officer last March, narrowly led former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson. Alpharetta businessman John F. Coyne III came in a distant third but with enough votes to play the spoiler in his first election, keeping McKinney from topping 50 percent of the vote. Few political analysts expected McKinney to have much trouble in her re-election bid even though her longheld status as a political lightning rod reached new heights over her very public confrontation with the Capitol guard. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: McKinney headed for runoff with Johnson
HARRIS SAYS SHE'S NOT A TARGET OF BRIBERY PROBE: U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said on Tuesday that Justice Department officials have contacted her and "requested information" from her office as they investigate a bribery case. It is the first time that Harris, R-Longboat Key, has confirmed that she is involved in the case, which has already landed one member of Congress in prison... Harris released a statement to the media on Tuesday, saying she has cooperated fully with federal authorities and that she is not a target of the bribery investigation. Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Harris says feds contacted her in bribery probe
LAMONT WANTS TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN IRAQ: Ned Lamont has become a political sensation in Connecticut by being a multimillionaire who wants the troops out of Iraq. But he would love, love to get people talking about other things than his wealth or the war... In just four months Mr. Lamont has upended the Democratic status quo by coming from nowhere (well, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen) to mount an energetic bid to topple Mr. Lieberman, who was his party's nominee for vice president in 2000. Having stoked voter anger over the senator's support for the war in Iraq, Mr. Lamont is also trying to score points by portraying Mr. Lieberman as neglectful on local issues and overly friendly with the Bush White House. New York Times: Lieberman Rival Seeks Support Beyond Iraq Issue
WILL SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES RALLY BEHIND BROWNBACK? Big issues like ending abortion, banning same-sex marriage, battling indecency on TV and refusing to fund embryonic stem cell research fuel [Kansas Senator Sam] Brownback's long-shot hopes for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Most Americans have never heard of him, but the conservative Christian leaders who play a critical role in the GOP take him seriously. After delivering what they see as the decisive votes to elect and re-elect George W. Bush, they grumble that social conservatives haven't gotten all they deserved on the issues that matter most to them, especially the campaign for a constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage. The question for them next time: Support a candidate who has a good shot of winning but a short history on their core issues? Or back a true believer who faces a steep uphill fight? USA Today: Will Christian right embrace - and support - one of its own?
BIG DIG "TURNAROUND"... STAKES ARE HIGH FOR ROMNEY: As a venture capitalist, Mitt Romney turned around companies and made himself a multimillionaire. At Salt Lake City, he turned around the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics, then went on to get elected governor of Massachusetts. The question these days is whether Romney can take a page from his autobiography, "Turnaround," get the nation's most expensive highway project back on track - and perhaps make himself the next president of the United States. AP via Yahoo! News: Gov. Romney's future may hinge on Big Dig
BAYH THROWS "HARD ELBOW" AT EDWARDS: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana threw the first hard elbow this week in what had previously been gentle jostling among the dozen or so Democrats considering a run for the presidency in 2008. Bayh said helping the middle class should be the party's top priority, a poke at former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, has traveled the country saying that eradicating poverty should be the chief concern of the party and its next nominee. "We have to do more to help those who are less fortunate in our country, but we can't stop there," Bayh said in an interview yesterday. "We have to help empower our middle class as well." Bloomberg: Bayh, Rebuking Edwards, Says Democrats Must Court Middle Class
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