The House voted 347-69 Thursday to overturn President Clinton's line-item veto of money to move Army Reserve units from Fort Douglas to make way for the 2002 Olympic Village.
The vote was just one of a package of 38 military construction project vetoes the House voted to overturn. The Senate is expected to similarly overturn the vetoes next week.The line-item veto of the $12.7 million for the Olympic Village project embarrassed the administration - which said privately it didn't realize that moving Utah Army Reserve units had any Olympic implications. However, no public concession of the error was made.
Because hurting the Olympics is politically akin to clubbing baby seals, the administration worked out another deal in which it agreed to move the Reserve units into rented facilities by September of this year, opening space for the athlete housing.
It said it would then seek funding in future years to permanently move the Reserve units to Camp Williams. Clinton included $13.2 million for that purpose in his 1999 budget, released this week.
The need for that 1999 money may be moot with the override of the line-item veto, although Army Reserve officials had said the $12.7 million provided originally was not enough for the move.
Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, said, "Even though President Clinton recognized his mistake and included funding for the move in his 1999 budget, Thursday's vote, coupled with (expected) Senate approval, guarantees the Reserve will promptly get the money it needs to move out of Fort Doug-las."
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, agreed, saying, "We need to get on with this project. These important Army units need new facilities and the University (of Utah, which will use the village for student housing) needs to move forward."
Hansen added, "I support the line item veto as a tool to eliminate wasteful spending, but the president has a responsibility to use it fairly and carefully. In this case, the president's actions were nei-ther."
He said Pentagon officials testified in hearings that none of the 38 vetoed projects met all the criteria Clinton said he had established for such vetoes - and they said each project was important.