Van Hollen introduces bill reforming spending process

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, introduced a bill Friday that would grant the president greater ability to eliminate wasteful spending embedded in appropriations bills.

The power, known as “line-item veto light”, would allow the president to submit a bill rescinding specific items within 45 days of an appropriations bill being enacted.

The bill would have to receive an up-or-down vote, and savings would go toward deficit reduction, Van Hollen’s office said in a statement. The number of rescissions in the president’s bill would be limited, however.

In the 1990s, Congress granted the president a line-item veto, but that was struck down as unconstitutional. Currently the president must either accept an entire spending bill or veto the entire bill under threat of a government shutdown.

The bill has 27 House co-sponsors, all Democrats. It is the companion bill to S. 102, introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) with 33 bipartisan co-sponsors. 

It is backed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who called on the GOP to back the bill.

“Democrats are committed to restoring fiscal discipline and cutting spending, and the bill introduced today will provide another tool for us to do that. Under expedited rescission, Congress and the President can work together to cut wasteful, duplicative spending. I hope my Republican colleagues back up their calls for reduced spending with action and join us in moving this bill forward," Hoyer said.

The House Blue Dog Coalition is behind the bill.

“Expedited rescission has always been a key priority of the Blue Dogs, but it's just one of many tools we need to restore fiscal discipline to our budget," said Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Blue Dog co-chairman for policy. “Over the coming months you'll see many more ideas from the Blue Dogs that will promote smart, common-sense ways to reduce wasteful spending, increase fiscal responsibility, and strengthen our economy.”