"Only in Washington can $22 billion be called a 'very small difference,"' Bush said Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –President Bush accused the Democratic-led Congress of larding appropriations bills with unnecessary spending Thursday, highlighting the issue by breaking the number down to dollars per second.
Bush has been aggressively challenging House and Senate leaders to produce the appropriations bills needed to fund the U.S. government in 2008 before the current budget year ends Sept. 30. He has threatened to veto several of those bills if they contain spending he considers unnecessary - a step he never took when his Republican allies controlled Congress.
Bush is now objecting to an additional $22 billion in spending Democrats want to add to his proposed $2.9 trillion budget. The president told reporters after a Thursday morning Cabinet meeting that the Democratic proposals would add up to an additional $205 billion over five years.
"That $205 billion averages out to about $112 million per day, $4.7 million per hour, $78,000 per minute. Put another way, that's about $1,300 in higher spending, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year for the next five years," he said. "In fact, at that pace, Democrats in Congress would have spent an extra $300,000 since I began these remarks."
Bush's only veto of a spending bill to date came in May, when he killed a $124 billion emergency spending bill for the war in Iraq that would have set a March 2008 goal for the withdrawal of American combat troops. The war currently costs the Treasury about $10 billion a month, or $3,800 a second.
Senior administration officials said Monday that they expected a budget battle to intensify this week, with the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove - whose portfolio includes budget, taxes, and spending - at the center of choreographing the administration's pitch, one of the officials said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shot back that Bush "must be in the Twilight Zone."
"Where was he in the first six years of his presidency, when the Republicans weren't passing appropriations bills?" Reid told reporters. "Did he say a word? No."
Reid said the difference between what Democrats are proposing and what Bush wants is about seven-tenths of 1 percent of a nearly $3 trillion budget for 2008. He said Bush is "trying to divert attention from his failed presidency" by picking a budget fight with Congress.
The president also said he is "disappointed" that none of the 13 appropriations bills have reached his desk before Congress goes on a month-long August recess. So far, 10 of the appropriations bills have passed the House and are still working their way through the Senate.
"The Democrats won last year's election fair and square, and now they control the calendar for bringing up bills in Congress," he said. "They need to pass each of these spending bills individually, on time and in a fiscally responsible way."
Democrats have blamed their delay on the Iraq war spending bill, which Bush submitted as a supplemental request, and the need to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government after the Republican-controlled Congress failed to pass all but two of the 13 annual appropriations bills in 2006.
Government operations for the 2007 budget year have been funded by a series of stopgap resolutions, the last of which Bush signed after Democrats took control of Congress.
- CNN's Ted Barrett and Matt Smith
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