OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation joined the House in voting to override President Bush's veto of a bill that recommends providing more than $140 million for water projects and Tar Creek relocation efforts in Oklahoma.
Tuesday's 361-54 vote came in well above the two-thirds margin that was needed for the override. All five Oklahoma House members voted with the majority, according to a story from The Oklahoman's Washington bureau.
“I have previously supported the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and continued to support this legislation in today's veto override vote,” Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., said Tuesday.
Rep. Mary Fallin, also R-Okla., said the water project bill is good for Oklahoma and the nation, while Rep. Dan Boren touted its proposed benefits for his sprawling district.
“This legislation contains significant funding for vital projects in the Tar Creek area, Lake Eufaula, Lake Texoma and the Red River,” Boren, D-Okla., said.
The Senate also is expected to override the veto, which would be the first successful override of Bush's presidency, and the bill automatically would become law. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who has been an outspoken proponent of the bill, has said he would help in the effort to override the veto in the Senate.
The $23 billion legislation includes hundreds of projects, many of which would be the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Among the larger projects are ones to restore the Everglades and the Louisiana coast and to build locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River.
The bill doesn't appropriate money, but instead sets congressional priorities. The money would have to be approved in separate bills.
Bush vetoed the bill because he said it was too expensive and that there was already a huge backlog of Army Corps of Engineers projects.
In Oklahoma, the bill would authorize $30 million to fund relocation assistance for residents in the Tar Creek communities of Picher, Cardin and Hockerville, where residents are at risk because of abandoned mines in the area.
The measure also would provide $50 million for ecosystem restoration, recreation and flood damage reduction in the Arkansas River Corridor.
It also would forgive an estimated $10 million in debt the Corps of Engineers claims the city of Edmond owes on water payments at Arcadia Lake.
The bill also would fund a demonstration project on Corps of Engineers lakes in Oklahoma to encourage public-private partnerships for recreational development, and it would funnel money into the state for municipal water-improvement projects.