WASHINGTON President Bush scolded lawmakers on Tuesday, saying the Democratic-led Congress hasn't "seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it."
Bush, who has been criticized himself for government spending increases, chided Congress for failing to send him any appropriations bills even though the government started a new budget year on Oct. 1.
"The leadership that's on the hill now can't get that done," Bush said, standing outside the White House with Republican leaders.
Bush also warned Congress not to bother sending him another version of a children's health insurance bill that he will not sign. Bush vetoed the legislation once; the House has passed a revamped version that he does not support, and the Senate is expected to take it up soon.
"After going alone and going nowhere, Congress should instead work with the administration on a bill that puts poor children first," the president said.
Bush's appearance on the North Portico, following his meeting with House GOP leaders in the East Room, was part of a growing effort to blame Congress for a stalemate in Washington. Bush never vetoed a spending bill when Republicans controlled Congress, but he's itching to do so now to demonstrate toughness on spending.
"Congress is not getting its work done," Bush said bluntly. "We're near the end of the year, and there really isn't much to show for it."
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, responded: "President Bush's rally this morning reminds us that Congressional Republicans remain ready and willing to rubber-stamp the Bush agenda: no to children's health care; no to a new direction in Iraq; and no to investing in America's future."
Bush said he would veto a potential Democratic bill that would bundle together three massive spending bills for defense matters, veterans affairs and the labor, education and health departments. He called it a "three-bill pileup."
"It's hard to imagine a more cynical political strategy than trying to hold hostage funding for our troops in combat, and our wounded warriors, in order to extract $11 billion in additional social spending," Bush said. "I hope media reports about such a strategy are wrong, I really do."
Bush again prodded Congress to send him the basic spending bills individually after consulting with his administration.