The Senate Appropriations Committee took the first step Thursday toward overturning President Clinton's line-item veto of a project affecting the 2002 Olympic Village.
It voted 25-2 to overturn 38 line-item vetoes that were part of the 1998 Military Appropriations Bill, including $12.7 million to move Army Reserve activities off 11 acres of Fort Douglas to allow its use for Olympic athlete housing.That bill now goes to the full Senate. Only a simple majority is needed in both houses to send the list back to Clinton for reconsideration. If he vetoes it again, a two-thirds majority in Congress is needed to override it.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee - and is among those pushing for the override.
"This vote sends another strong message of opposition to the president's action on these projects. I expect the full Senate will act quickly, and with strong support to correct the president's errors," he said.
While the White House will not admit it publicly, several Utah officials have said the administration has told them it did not realize the project's Olympic ties when Clinton included it in his line-item vetoes.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry has said the president realized what he was doing, but was forced to veto it because it met criteria Clinton had established for that.
But McCurry also said the administration is looking for an alternate way to help fund moving Army Reserve activities to Camp Williams now. However, it opposes restoring all the items that were vetoed.
Meanwhile, Pentagon budget officials also testified earlier this month that none of the 38 items vetoed in the construction bill met all three of the criteria that Clinton said he had used to decide what to cut.
Those three included: not being in the president's original budget request; not being able to begin construction during 1998; and not contributing significantly to quality of life for soldiers and the mission of the military.
Pentagon officials said the project to move Army Reserve activities from Fort Douglas met only one of those criteria: It was not in the president's original budget.