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McCain says Congress spends 'like drunken sailor'

WASHINGTON -- Congress is throwing away astonishing amounts of money, spending "like a drunken sailor," and President Bush shares the blame because he is not using his veto power, Senator John S. McCain said yesterday.

McCain, an avid critic of spending for lawmakers' pet projects in their districts and states, said the president's reluctance to veto legislation makes it harder for congressional negotiators to kill such spending.

Opposition from McCain, Republican of Arizona, and others kept the Senate from passing a $390 billion bill last week that would have paid for operations of 10 of 14 government departments and scores of lesser agencies.

The legislation comes up again after the senators return from Thanksgiving recess, but it is unclear whether it will be this month or next. Senate aides said McCain is expected to delay passage as long as possible.

"The numbers are astonishing," McCain said on "Fox News Sunday." "Congress is now spending money like a drunken sailor and I've never known a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination that this Congress has." He is a former Navy officer.

McCain said growth of spending had been capped at 4 percent, but it was at least 8 percent higher. He said he will continue urging Bush to veto profligate spending bills. The president has not vetoed a single bill since he took office. Asked if the president bears some responsibility, McCain said: "Yes, because I think that the president cannot say, as he has many times, that `I'm going to tell Congress to enforce some spending discipline,' and then not veto bills."

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