By James Monteleone
Triplicate Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON Rep. Mike Thompson on Monday said fishery disaster relief would not be overlooked in future legislation, in the event President Bush follows through on his threat to veto an emergency war funding bill.
If the current legislation gets vetoed, a new emergency spending bill would have to be drawn up, Thompson said, and that would be the most likely "appropriations vehicle" for the salmon fishery disaster relief.
"The whole emergency supplemental process is set up to fund emergencies that are outside the budget, and what he's saying is he wants this only to be an Iraq funding bill," Thompson said in an interview with The Daily Triplicate. "Of all the things in there, the most glaring example of something that's not an emergency is the Iraq war."
Thompson said the Bush administration should have been able to better plan spending needs for the four-year-old war, without requiring an "emergency" spending plan.
Some House Democrats said Monday they would probably be willing to negotiate with the president to ensure the troops are funded, CNN reported, and that could mean getting rid of the troop pullout deadlines as well as relief for domestic emergencies.
A joint conference committee must yet iron out differences between House and Senate versions of the spending measure before it is sent to Bush.
An analyst for the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation said Democrats might need to look elsewhere this year to pay for domestic projects.
"You're going to have to find a way to fund some of these priorities," said Dani Doane, director of House relations at Heritage. "I think people have become way too reliant on this mechanism as a way of funding things."
If Democrats were willing to negotiate on removing troop-removal deadlines, Doane said, the party would likely be able to keep much of the domestic funding the president has described as "pork."
Thompson said assisting salmon fishermen is more than a pork project, and the Bush administration has an obligation to help.
"I can tell you the salmon fisheries is a true emergency, and to add insult to injury, it's an emergency that this president caused because of his water policy," he said. "They diverted water in an inappropriate way that caused this problem, and all for political reasons."