Senate overrides Bush’s veto of water resources bill, first in 7-year term

By Charles Babington

WASHINGTON – President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects.

The 79-14 vote included 34 Republicans who defied the president. Enactment was a foregone conclusion, but it still marked a milestone for a president who spent his first six years with a much friendlier Congress controlled by his Republican Party.

Now he confronts a more hostile, Democratic-controlled legislature, and Thursday’s vote showed that most of the Republicans will defy him on spending matters dear to their political careers.

Bush’s spokeswoman portrayed the issue as a divide between a budget-conscious president and a big-spending Congress.

The bill funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.