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The House Budget Committee has returned the line-item veto to the full House on a bipartisan vote, 24-9, delivering a potentially valuable tool in the fight over earmarks. The new bill would allow the President to return line items from bills for an up-or-down vote in Congress, forcing porkers to take responsibility for their spending habits and links to benefactors:
Congress is moving to give President Bush and his successors greater power to try to weed bills of certain spending, though the new power would pale compared with the line-item veto law struck down by the Supreme Court in 1998.
The House Budget Committee on Wednesday approved by a 24-9 vote a bill to allow the president to single out wasteful items contained in appropriations bills he signs into law, and it would require Congress to vote on those items again.
The idea is that wasteful "pork barrel" spending would be vulnerable since Congress might vote to reject such items once they are no longer protected by their inclusion in bigger bills that the president has little choice but to sign.
This is a far weaker version of the line-item veto that Republicans in Congress gave President Clinton in 1996. That bill allowed Clinton to strike items from appropriations and tax bills unless Congress mustered a two-thirds margin to override him. The bill was found unconstitutional since it allowed the president to amend laws passed by Congress.
The act of returning line items for specific votes may not do anything to stem the tide of pork flowing out of DC. After all, the President has to first flag those items with this new procedure, and this particular President has not had the inclination to send anything back to Capitol Hill for over five years. Once he does start requiring votes for specific items, Congress can simply vote their earmarks back into the budget in open session. Certain tax incentives have been made out of bounds for a Presidential rejection, which makes this a less-useful tool than it should be.
However, it allows the White House to exercise budget control if desired, and the existence of the tool makes it more difficult to blame Congress entirely for out-of-control spending. Any President will find some motivation to select at least a handful of the most egregious earmarks, simply to appear cognizant of taxpayer outrage. And while Congress can restore funding with a simple majority for these pork-barrel line items, pulling them into the sunshine will undoubtedly make legislators significantly less enthusiastic about casting a specific vote to spend money on bridges to nowhere, bailouts for corporations making record operating income, and the like. The time has passed where voters paid little attention to the padding that accompanies appropriations bills, and every line item restored will be one more vote that opponents will use against them in their next election.
This system does not come close to perfection. In its way, though, it pushes accountability on both elected branches of government, and it will put at least some of the pork on display for all Americans to see for themselves. As it stands, no one has any accountability for the pork feasts in DC -- and taxpayers are tired of picking up the bill all by themselves.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on June 14, 2006 4:37 PM
» Line Item Veto coming up for a Vote from Texpatriates Blog
This is good news. The line item veto made it out of committee. Capt Ed has commentary. I can’t imagine why any reasonable politician would oppose this measure. It gives political cover to congressmen while also ensuring fiscal responsibility. If... [Read More]
Tracked on June 14, 2006 6:16 PM
» Line Item Veto Coming To House Floor from Small Town Veteran
Line Item Veto Coming To House Floor The House Budget Committee has returned the line-item veto to the full House on a bipartisan vote, 24-9, delivering a potentially valuable tool in the fight over earmarks. The new bill would allow [Read More]
Tracked on June 14, 2006 6:27 PM
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