House fails to override Bush veto

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives fell just two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override President George W. Bush's veto of an education spending bill November 15, leaving some of the neediest students without essential programs necessary for them to succeed in school. The measure failed despite the support of 51 Republicans. The final vote was 277-141.

"It's shameful that lawmakers must fight tooth and nail like this to try to override a presidential veto and protect basic education programs," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "This was a bipartisan, noncontroversial spending bill for vital domestic services. But the president wants to nickel-and-dime education. His veto just shows what we have known for years: this administration is not serious about education."

The president demands $4.5 billion less than what a strong bipartisan majority in Congress has deemed necessary to invest in public schools. Nationally, he wants to eliminate 45 federal education programs. Others would be severely affected, like the early childhood education program Head Start, which would be reduced by $300 million. That move would have a harsh effect on more than 30,000 preschool children. 

His demands would also slash $800 million that Congress has allocated for special education for children with disabilities and eliminate half of the funding for career and technical education programs. Lawmakers want to maintain these programs and give students and educators the resources they need, but the president has stubbornly refused to work with Congress.

The president said he vetoed the bill because it was full of pork and lawmakers are "acting like a teenager with a new credit card." Comments like this misrepresent what this education funding bill is about, Weaver said.

"It has become more and more clear, from his veto and his comments, that the president is completely out of touch with the millions of students, parents and educators who would be deeply affected by his attacks on public education," Weaver said. "Members of Congress have been able to move beyond politics and work across party lines to maintain vital domestic programs. It's time the president does the same."

NEA media release