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Vain Veto?

November 5, 2007

Link to Editorial

Override promised on water bill

Despite the prospect of an almost-certain override, President Bush on Friday defiantly vetoed a water-resources bill that includes major funding provisions and other significant measures for Oklahoma projects.

Members of both the House and Senate promised the override would be forthcoming, and the hefty approval margins in both chambers just about guarantee that outcome.

Our hope is the override does occur, for more than one reason.

Obviously the $23 billion act would go far to help address major issues in Oklahoma as well as other states, including the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states.

A total of $50 million in funding for Arkansas River infrastructure projects, and $30 million for relocation of Tar Creek Superfund site residents is authorized in the Water Resources Development Act -- elements included thanks to the insistence of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

Appropriation of the funds would come at a future date, if at all.

But in addition to funding authorizations, the bill includes new language that would relieve cities of questionable debt and allow public-private lake developments to move forward. Also included is a citizen oversight element for Lake Eufaula.

Obviously these Oklahoma measures are greatly desired by various elements of the population. Most if not all have significant economic development potential.

And that is the other reason we'd like this bill to become law. While it's popular to cry "pork" when a big price tag is attached to a bill, the other side of the argument is that included elements are important, justifiable objectives.

That's not to say the federal government should fork over funding for any and every little project. But everyone knows major projects often can't be undertaken at the local, or even state level.

It appears Bush vetoed this bill only in an attempt to politically damage Democrats, despite the fact it received strong Republican support, and despite the fact he refused to veto equally costly bills while the GOP controlled Congress.

We soon will see who is damaged most by this questionable strategy.