November 15, 1985
Today I am vetoing H.R. 3036, which makes appropriations for the Treasury Department, the United States Postal Service, and certain Independent Agencies for the fiscal year 1986. Last night, under emergency conditions, I signed two pieces of temporary legislation to prevent the Federal Government from shutting down and having its checks dishonored.
This is an unacceptable situation in two respects. First, the temporary bills on appropriations and the debt ceiling again illustrate the failure of the budget process. I have received only 4 of the required 13 appropriations bills, though all were supposed to be passed by September 30th. We have known for months that the debt limit would have to be increased, yet legislative inaction forced us to accelerate the redemption of securities in the Social Security and other trust funds and waste millions of taxpayer dollars.
Second, this episode is just the latest example of an ingrained incapacity to tackle the large budget deficit. Although a budget resolution was finally produced 2\1/2\ months behind schedule, its presumed savings have not been achieved. The old propensity to spend and spend and to capitulate to one interest group after another continues unabated. The solution to solving the deficit problem is not to be found in spending more money. The need to veto this unacceptable measure is proof positive of the need to sign acceptable legislation to improve the budget process, such as the amendment proposed by Senators Gramm, Rudman, and Hollings.
Many Members of Congress share my frustration. That is why the Senate passed in early October the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings legislation to force hard decisions and set us on a course toward a balanced budget. We need this legislation urgently, just as we need the line-item veto. There is still ample time to enact both before this session of Congress ends. This chronic budgetary crisis, and the inexcusable waste of taxpayer dollars that it entails, highlights once again the pressing need for basic reform of the congressional budget process. But there can be no gain for our prosperity or our security if Congress approves the version of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings passed by the House -- a distorted version that takes unacceptable risks with our national security.
In my budget last February I proposed a commonsense path toward lower deficits by reforming, reducing, or eliminating about 50 domestic spending programs. The Congress has accepted very few of these proposals, and every nondefense appropriations bill will far exceed my budget. The bill I am vetoing today is a case in point. For discretionary programs the bill is more than $900 million above my budget and $180 million for budget authority and other discretionary resources above the level for this bill implied in the budget resolution. Its language contains provisions that are purely and simply bad policy, and one section of the bill raises serious constitutional concerns with respect to Presidential appointments.
The Presidential veto is an instrument to be used with care. But unless and until a genuine effort is made to control spending, the veto is an instrument I shall not hesitate to employ.