The White House responded to criticism of President Reagan's veto yesterday of a wilderness bill and a second measure establishing a corporation to provide development capital to Indian businesses. Democrats charged that the action was politically motivated. The wilderness bill would have designated 1.43 million acres of Forest Service land in Montana as protected wilderness. The Forest Service is part of the US Department of Agriculture.
Reagan said in a statement that enactment of the wilderness measure ``would injure the economy of Montana. It could cost jobs and eliminate vast mineral development opportunities. It also would reduce the flexibility the federal government needs in managing the nation's natural heritage.''
``This bill was vetoed for petty politics, and that's all,'' Sen. Max Baucus (D) of Montana said Wednesday, shortly after the White House announced Reagan's pocket vetoe of the wilderness bill.
The president said he withheld his approval of the bill creating the Indian Development Finance Corp. because it ``would have created an expensive and unnecessary new bureaucracy and duplicated currently existing programs.''
By exercising the pocket vetoes - refusing to sign the bills after Congress had adjourned for the year - Reagan ensured that lawmakers could not override his actions.