An increasingly confrontational President Bush on Friday vetoed a bill authorizing hundreds of popular water projects even though lawmakers can count enough votes to override him. Bush brushed aside significant objections from Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, in vetoing legislation that provides $23 billion for projects like repairing hurricane damage, restoring wetlands, preventing flooding in communities across the nation and a project to repair a water source on Montana's Hi-Line. Montana's congressional delegation promised Friday to help override the presidential veto of the bill, which includes $153 million for studies and design work for the St. Mary Diversion. “This veto is ludicrous, ridiculous, and just downright dumb,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the WRDA bill. “For the President to say that folks along the Hi-Line don’t deserve clean water is so outrageous, so outlandish, that it’s almost laughable.” The diversion system was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1900s to transfer water from the St. Mary River at Babb to the Milk River through a 30-mile-long series of canals and siphons. Thousands of people get their water from the system, and it provides irrigation for about 150,000 acres of farmland along the state's northErn border. The bill also includes funding for several other Montana water projects. “President Bush has once again shown that he is out of touch with the priorities of rural America,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. “It’s strange that the Presidentafter seven years of reckless spending and racking up billions and billions in debtis all of a sudden going after a bipartisan bill that funds critically important projects for Montana’s infrastructure. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., called the veto "shortsighted.” “WRDA authorizes funding for many projects critical to Montana’s natural resources,” Rehberg said. “Good, clean water improves the quality of life for Montana families and spurs economic development in local communities. I voted for this bill when it passed the House and I'll vote to override the president's veto.” It appears certain Bush will have his veto overridden for the first time in his presidency. The bill passed in both chambers of Congress by well more than the two-thirds majority needed to override Bush's decision and make the measure law. "When we override this irresponsible veto, perhaps the president will finally recognize that Congress is an equal branch of government and reconsider his many other reckless veto threats," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "More than two years after failing to respond to the devastation and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, he is refusing to fund important projects guided by the Army Corps of Engineers that are essential to protecting the people of the Gulf Coast region," Reid said. Bush objected to $9 billion in projects added during negotiations between the House and Senate. He hoped that his action, even though it is sure not to hold, would cast him as a friend to conservatives who demand a tighter rein on federal spending. Bush never vetoed spending bills under the Republican Congress, despite budgetary increases then, too. Attempting to demonstrate fiscal toughness in the seventh year of his presidency, Bush risked being criticized for doing too little, too late and of waging a transparently partisan attack against the Democrats who now run Capitol Hill. The president took the gamble, though without any public fanfare, as part of a broader effort to take on Democratic leaders frequently and more pointedly. It was Bush's fifth veto. Four of those have come since Democrats took over Congress in January. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, pledged to work to override the veto. "We are facing a water infrastructure crisis and our national investment in water resources has not kept pace with our level of economic expansion," Voinovich said. But Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin applauded Bush for vetoing a "flawed, bloated bill. Instead of trying to override the veto, Congress should take this opportunity to fix the bill." Stephen Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said lawmakers should "go back to the drawing board and come back with a responsible bill that meets the country's needs while not sinking our fiscal ship." White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush issued veto threats under the GOP-controlled Congress that were enough to do the job. "Republicans heeded the president's concerns, stayed within his spending caps, and avoided vetoes," he said. "Democrats are intent on exceeding those caps, and if they do the president will veto those bills." The water project legislation originally approved by the Senate would have cost $14 billion and the House version would have totaled $15 billion. Bush and a few Republicans complained that the final version was larded with unneeded pet projects pushed by individual lawmakers sending the overall cost of the bill much higher. Bush vetoed the bill because it is "fiscally irresponsible" and falls outside the scope of the mission of the Army Corps of Engineers, White House press secretary Dana Perino said. Critics noted the Corps already has a backlog of $58 billion worth of projects and an annual budget of only about $2 billion to address them. If Bush is overridden, the measure would give a green light to projects in virtually every state. It only authorizes the projects; the actual funding must be approved separately. The authorizations include: $3.6 billion for major wetlands and other coastal restoration, flood control and dredging projects for Louisiana, a state where coastal erosion and storms have resulted in the disappearance of huge areas of land; nearly $2 billion for the restoration of the Florida Everglades; nearly $2 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to build seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers; $7 billion for various projects related to hurricane mitigation in Mississippi and Louisiana, including assuring 100-year levee protection in New Orleans; hundreds of smaller dredging, wetlands restoration and flood control projects across the country. Previous Bush vetoes include two of bills allowing expanded federal research using embryonic stem cells, a spending bill that would have required troop withdrawals from Iraq, and legislation to expand a children's health insurance program. Havre Daily News staff contributed to this story.