Constitutional, Legislative Line-item Veto Will Help Cut Pork, Improve Accountability

The current budget system - the legacy of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act - is institutionally biased towards spending rather than saving. We're fighting to change this, and the push for a constitutional line-item veto is one key part of our broader reform effort.

While earmark reform brings more accountability at the front of the budget process, we also need to make sure Congress and the President can remove wasteful spending items that are dropped into conference reports at the end of the process. The legislative line-item veto will create this crucial backstop and deter lawmakers from adding pork in the first place.



Simply put, my bipartisan line-item veto legislation, H.R. 4890, will enable the President to single out an item (or items) of wasteful spending in a larger spending bill that arrives on his desk for signature and send a request to Congress that the specific item be rescinded. Then it puts the President's rescission request on a fast track for consideration in Congress. House and Senate leadership would have two days to introduce the President's rescission request. After that time, any member of Congress can introduce the proposal. A clean, up-or-down vote on the rescission must occur within ten legislative days of the bill's introduction.

This keeps the power of the purse with Congress, where it belongs. At the same time, it gives the President an effective rescission authority - one that Congress can't ignore. Furthermore, simply knowing that their pet project, whether it's an indoor rain forest or a "railroad to nowhere", could be subject to a stand-alone vote on its own merits in Congress will serve as a deterrent for lawmakers and an incentive to make spending bills leaner.

Unlike the line-item veto law that the Supreme Court struck down in 1998, our version passes constitutional muster. In fact, Chuck Cooper, the attorney who argued before the Supreme Court against the earlier line-item law, has testified in favor of our legislation. He will be testifying again on Thursday, June 8, at a House Budget Committee hearing. This is the second hearing the Budget Committee has held on the legislative line-item veto, and it follows other hearings that Rules and Judiciary subcommittees have held this spring.

With a markup in the House Budget Committee expected next week, momentum is building for action on this common-sense proposal to get rid of unnecessary spending and boost accountability in Congress.