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House rejects farm-bill veto

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WASHINGTON — The House quickly rejected President Bush's veto Wednesday of a $290 billion farm bill, and the Senate was poised to follow suit, a stark rebuke of a president overridden only once in his two terms.

Only hours before the House's 316-108 vote, Bush had vetoed the five-year measure, saying it was too expensive and gave too much money to wealthy farmers when farm incomes are high.

The legislation includes election-year subsidies for farmers and food stamps for the poor — spending that lawmakers could promote when they are back in their districts over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Senate planned to vote Thursday, with enough votes expected to overturn the veto.

The veto was the 10th of Bush's presidency. Congress so far has overridden him once, on a water projects bill.

With Bush at record lows in the polls in the waning months of his term, it was fellow Republicans who joined with majority Democrats in rejecting the veto. GOP lawmakers are anxious about their own prospects less than six months from the Election Day.

About two-thirds of the farm bill would pay for nutrition programs such as food stamps; about $40 billion is for farm subsidies; and an additional $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.

Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly abandoned Bush in voting to pass the bill last week, overlooking its cost amid public concern about the weak economy and high gas and grocery prices.