Line-item-veto bill moves forward after tense debate

The House Budget Committee backed a line-item veto bill by a vote of 23-13 on Thursday after a tense debate.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), an appropriations subcommittee chairman, led the bipartisan opposition to the bill, which was sponsored by Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) and ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Opponents said that the bill would give the president the upper hand in closed-door spending talks like those going on this week. 

Simpson said the White House is always involved in crafting spending deals and to think otherwise is naïve. He said the White House worked through Senate Democrats in the negotiations on the Interior, Environment bill, which wrapped up earlier this week.  

“We had the magician behind the curtain, and the Senate was just the front man,” he said. 

“When I have a gun on my hip, it changes the nature of our conversation,” said Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

Opponents also argued that the bill is unconstitutional, though it is not a true line-item veto. The bill would allow the president to request rescissions of appropriated funds within 45 days after a bill is enacted and to have that request receive an up-or-down vote in Congress.

Congress briefly granted the president true line-item veto powers in the 1990s, but the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional in 1998.

Some committee Democrats and Republicans held up the 1,200 page omnibus spending bill, set to come to the House floor this week, as an example of the type of bad legislating that cries out for some type of line-item veto. 

The committee voted down two amendments that would have expanded the rescissions involved to include mandatory spending such as on entitlements and to loopholes in the tax code.

Voting against the bill were Simpson, Cole and Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump's nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (R-Mich.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthHouse Dems see shutdown as inevitable Red state Dem: Trump has 'committed impeachable offenses' Congress reeling from sexual harassment deluge MORE (D-Ky.),  Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MoorePelosi rips Trump administration's 'thought control' on CDC Dem: Trump banning words in CDC documents ‘deeply disturbing and offensive’ Dem rep: Moore supporter called my office pretending to be a reporter, shouted racial slurs MORE (D-Wis.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).

Several supporters said they were won over by the fact the line-item veto bill sunsets after four years.

Ryan said afterward that he hopes to bring the bill to the floor early next year along with nine other budget reform bills.