Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D.W.Va.) split with President Carter over the water projects bill yesterday, saying the president was wrong "to refer to it as pork barrel and budget-busting."
Byrd said that if Carter vetoes the $10.2 billion bill, as he has threatened he will lead the effort to override the veto in the Senate.
"I'm going to vote to override, I'm going to work to get the Senate to override, I'm going to do everything I possibly can to get the Senate to override," he said.
"I have urged the president not to veto the bill," Byrd said. He bristled at the expression "pork barrel" and declared:
"It's not pork barrel. That's a code word, a buzz word. What may be pork barrel to someone not living in a flood area or a drougnt area, is not pork barrel to someone . . . who has to shovel black mud . . . or see his home swept away."
Byrd said the bill "means jobs. It means protection for homes and lives and property . . . it's a mistake to refer to it as pork barrel and budget-busting," as the president did in his Thursday televised news conference. Byrd said when a flood destroy's a productive business, it is a huge economic loss.
Byrd's statement came as the [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] House and congressional [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] negotiating to see if a [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] can be worked out - [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] enough to avert a [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] likely, sources said, if [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] to override a veto and a [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] be passed.
Byrd said Carter had told [WORDS ILLEGIBLE]if he does veto the bill, it will [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] so that Congress will have a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] an override vote before it goes home.
Carter objects to the bill because it contains money for starting 27 water projects he doesn't want and fails to provide full funding for 26 others he does want. It also revives six projects he thought Congress had agreed to drop last year. White House aides say that if full funding for all 53 new starts and the six revivals were included in the bill, instead of just first-year funding, the measure would be $1.8 billion over the president's budget.
Under the proposed compromise, some of the 27 new starts Carter objects to would be dropped and some form of "language" on full funding would be included.
Byrd, speaking at his regular Saturday morning news conference, said "the prospect is fairly good" for getting the House-passed Humphery-Hawkins full-employment bill to the Senate floor. He said he is trying to work out time limits for debate with Republican leaders. The Congressional Black Caucus, at meetings with Carter, called the bill a top priority item for action before Congress adjourns for this year.
Byrd said the tax cut bill, hopefully, would go to the Senate floor Thursday with a final vote sometime the following week. He also said he favors the mobile missile concept because "any rabbit hunter will tell you that the hardest target to hit is a moving target.