President Bush would receive greater power to try to kill "pork barrel" spending projects under a bill passed Thursday by the House.
Lawmakers voted to give Bush and his successor a new, weaker version of the line-item veto law struck down by the Supreme Court in 1998, despite a recent series of lopsided votes in which they've rallied to preserve each other's back-home projects. It would expire after six years.
The idea advances amid increasing public concern about lawmakers' penchant for stuffing parochial projects into spending bills that the president must accept or reject in their entirety.
The House passed the bill by a 247-172 vote. Thirty-five Democrats joined with most Republicans in voting for the bill; 15 Republicans opposed the measure and voted for the bill despite private reservations
The Herald-Sun has the line-item veto at a glance:
First, within 45 days of signing a bill, the president would submit one or more messages to Congress identifying the items within the legislation that he objects to and listing the reasons for his opposition. Items are eligible to be killed if they are in spending bills or are tax cuts aimed at a single beneficiary.
Then, both the House and Senate would vote quickly on a bill containing the president's list of items without changes. If both the House and the Senate pass the list by simple majority votes, the items would be permanently rescinded.
Slacker Nation likes the idea:
Line Item Veto is back up for a vote. Our government NEEDS this. There are billions of dollars every year squandered on self-serving pet projects of government officials and lobbyists. BILLIONS! Line Item Veto could help stem the tide of "Bridges to Nowhere", Indoor Rainforests, and slow the waste caused by the likes of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), a career politician who funnels vast sums of Federal money into his own state. West Virginia has ranked in the top four states for pork per capita and, despite the large amount of money poured into the state, has the third lowest personal income per capita. So much for throwing money at people and government institutions to alleviate poverty.
Over at Red State, John Galt sees the earmark problem, but thinks this is the wrong solution:
The Line Item Veto is the wrong solution to a real problem. The problem that Rep. Jeb Hensarling and the members of the RSC are trying to fight is not that the Legislative Branch has too much power, it is that there has been a centralization of power within the Legislative Branch among a handful of Appropriators and the Elected Leadership that make-up the conference committees that draft the appropriations bills that get sent to the President. It is not a case that Congress has too much power; instead it is a problem that a handful of members with seniority have too much power.
Rep. Jack Kingston, an appropriator no less, also pushed the veto.
Rep. Paul Ryan, who pushed the bill, calls it a "pork parer":
While the earlier version violated constitutional principles and shifted the balance of power from Congress to the president, today's variation on the line-item veto ensures that Congress remains the final arbiter of the contents of legislation. In fact, Charles Cooper, an attorney who argued before the Supreme Court against the previous line-item veto, has testified to the constitutionality of our legislative line-item veto at three congressional hearings this year. The current approach keeps the power of the purse in Congress -- right where it should be -- and fixes the primary problem with the president's existing rescission authority. Though the president today can propose the rescission of wasteful spending items, there's nothing to guarantee Congress ever votes on such requests. During President Reagan's administration, Congress failed to act on more than $25 billion in rescission requests, and the historical ineffectiveness of the present system has deterred presidents from using it to rein in excess spending.