Fox News falsely reported the White House claim that President Bush has never vetoed a bill "because Congress has always stayed below his spending limit." In fact, Bush signed the 2005 transportation bill, which cost $286.4 billion, after initially threatening to reject any bill that cost more than $256 billion.
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On the March 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler uncritically repeated a false claim -- which he attributed to anonymous Bush administration "aides" -- that the reason President Bush has never vetoed a bill is that "Congress has always stayed below his spending limit." In fact, in August 2005, Bush signed into law a $286.4 billion transportation bill after initially threatening to reject any bill that cost more than $256 billion.
Goler repeated the administration's false claim during a segment on Bush's proposal for a "line-item veto," which would allow Bush to remove individual earmarks (commonly referred to by critics as "pork-barrel projects") from spending bills.
An August 4, 2005, Washington Post article noted: "In 2004, Bush demanded that no highway bill exceed $256 billion. Under pressure, he increased his limit to $284 billion this year." But even Bush's revised spending limit was more than $2 billion below the final bill's official price tag of $286.4 billion.
In addition, the six-year spending bill may actually cost $295 billion. As Media Matters for America has noted, the bill's $286.4 billion cost does not include an additional $8.5 billion counted separately under what the bill's opponents called an accounting "gimmick."
According to an August 11, 2005, Washington Post article, the bill contained a record 6,371 earmarks inserted by members of Congress.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
GOLER: Some lawmakers see earmarks as a way they can decide how to spend money their states are already due, like highway funds, and they won't give up the power easily. Meanwhile, aides say the president has never used his veto because Congress has always stayed below his spending limit, even if it added some things he didn't like.