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Democratic leaders slam Obama veto threat

By the CNN Wire Staff
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, wears a black-and-white ribbon Tuesday to honor victims of the Arizona shooting.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, wears a black-and-white ribbon Tuesday to honor victims of the Arizona shooting.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some Democrats disagree with Obama's promise to veto bills with earmarks
  • Sen. Harry Reid: Veto would just give more power to president, who already has enough
  • Some lawmakers, like Sen. John McCain, applauded the promise

Washington (CNN) -- While the president's State of the Union address was filled with applause lines that brought many fellow Democrats to their feet, one part in particular rankled some key members of his party: "If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

The line brought applause from some lawmakers, including his former competitor for the White House, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

But House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told CNN on Wednesday the threat was "unfortunate."

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate funds, said Hoyer, D-Maryland. "I frankly wasn't very taken with the president's thought. Clearly, if there is an additional spending initiative by the Congress that is not appropriate, the president ought to veto it.

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"On the other other hand, if it is an appropriate expenditure -- in a community, in a state, in the nation -- then I think the president ought to sign that. I thought simply a blanket statement that because Congress adds an item of spending to the appropriation bills that he would, therefore, veto it, I think that was unfortunate and a proposition with which I do not agree."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, made similar remarks Tuesday when word surfaced that the president would call for an earmark ban.

"I think this is an issue that any president would like to have, that takes power away from the legislative branch of government," Reid told reporters. "I think it's the wrong thing to do. I don't think it's helpful. It's a lot of pretty talk, but it only gives the president more power. He's got enough power already."

 
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