Bush and Republican leaders give us yet another reason to distrust them when they claim to care about reducing spending. They do not.
WASHINGTON — President Bush is unlikely to defy Congress on spending billions of dollars earmarked for pet projects, but he will probably insist that lawmakers provide more justification for such earmarks in the future, administration officials said Monday.
Fiscal conservatives in Congress and budget watchdogs have been urging Mr. Bush to issue an executive order instructing agencies to disregard the many earmarks listed just in committee reports, not in the text of legislation.
More than 90 percent of earmarks are specified that way, not actually included in the texts. White House officials say such earmarks are not legally binding on the president.
Congressional leaders of both parties, who are scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the president, said Mr. Bush would provoke a huge outcry on Capitol Hill if he ignored those earmarks.
Lawmakers, including the House Republican whip, Roy Blunt of Missouri, have cautioned the White House that a furor over earmarks could upend Mr. Bush’s hopes for cooperation with Congress on other issues, including efforts to revive the economy.
Moreover, Republicans shudder at the possibility that a Democratic president might reject all their earmarks.