President Bush on Friday vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, which included long-sought funding for the building of new locks on the upper Mississippi River and the Illinois River to speed up freight traffic.
Bush had long threatened to veto the popular $23 billion bill, which also contained projects for coastal restoration in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina and improving the Florida Everglades, saying it was too expensive.
The National Corn Growers Association wasted no time in calling on Congress to override the President’s veto.
“Members of the National Corn Growers Association do not plan to take the president's veto lightly," said NCGA President Ron Litterer in a press release on the group’s Web site. "We are rallying our 32,000 members and will wage an all-out grassroots campaign to override the veto.”
The new Mississippi river locks are considered crucial to keeping U.S. crops competitive in the world marketplace as many of the locks and dams on the upper Mississippi date from the Depression era and are showing their age.
“As it stands now, our infrastructure cannot keep pace with the current demands and is falling apart,” Litterer said.
Democrats in Congress said they would try to override the president's veto as early as next week. The measure passed both houses with more than the two thirds majorities needed to override a presidential veto. The Senate passed the bill 81-12, after the House approved it by a 381-40 margin.
Bush objected to the $9 billion in projects added during negotiations on the measure between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the measure "fiscally irresponsible" and said Bush cast the fifth veto of his presidency before leaving for a trip to South Carolina.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.