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DeLay blames Democrats, war for runaway federal spending

WASHINGTON—Republicans may control Congress and the White House, but a leading House Republican says they can't be blamed for runaway federal spending on their watch.

Blame it on the war, said Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Or the Democrats.

"The 9-11 recovery, the war on terror, our homeland security buildup and related priorities have required Congress to spend more than we otherwise would have," the former majority leader of the House of Representatives told an audience Thursday at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

"These things needed doing, and they needed doing quickly. Yes, they were expensive, but they were necessary and time-sensitive, and, given the circumstances, we were right to err on the side of security over thrift."

He also blamed Democrats, complaining that they haven't offered any suggestions on how to cut spending. He said they created a congressional budget process that makes it difficult to cut spending.

"We've been operating off a Congress designed by Democrats," he said.

The Republicans took control of Congress in 1995.

J. William Lauderback, the executive vice president of the American Conservative Union, challenged DeLay's version of congressional spending history. He told DeLay that he ignored the fact that only one-third of the rise in federal spending under Republicans stemmed from security. He also noted that House Republican leaders have advised their members to campaign on the local benefits of the recent highway bill, ripped by many conservatives as wasteful spending.

"I'm not here to defend the highway bill," DeLay said. Then he defended it, saying that without the bill, his Houston district wouldn't get its fair share of highway money.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

ARCHIVE PHOTOS on KRT Direct (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Tom DeLay

ARCHIVE CARICATURE on KRT Direct (from KRT Faces in the News Library, 202-383-6064): Tom DeLay

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