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September 25, 2006
Line-Item Veto Presser To Pressure The Senate

Now that we have won major battles on the federal spending database and the new House rules on identifying earmarkers, we still have one more effort to shepherd to victory. The group Citizens Against Government Waste will hold a press conference this week in order to put pressure on the Senate to pass the line-item veto bill passed by the House last June. The Senate version, S.2381, has been stalled since May, and with the legislative session winding down, time may start running out for the new line-item veto.

I wrote about this for the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog today. Some feel the new approach taken by the line-item veto is too weak to overcome all of the excessive spending in Congress, but I argue that even a little bit helps:

The question about the line-item veto isn’t whether it would do damage to the Constitution, it’s whether it would get used. This administration has been the most reluctant in American history to veto legislation, although it has used the threat of veto. The Senate probably takes this proposal less seriously considering this track record and may have thought to put more effort into the other reforms as a result.

The White House already can simply choose not to spend the monies appropriated by Congress, especially the earmarks in conference and committee reports. In fact, the line-item veto won’t apply to such earmarks—only those line items listed in the official budget. And nothing will get trimmed if the White House refuses to challenge Congress on spending, an effort sadly lacking in this particular administration over the past six years. But, President Bush’s support for the line-item veto indicates that he wants to change that in his final two years in office as evidenced by the hard push OMB Director Portman and other administration officials are making for this change

While some may object to this version of the line-item veto as doing too little, it’s important not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Be sure to read the whole thing, and check out the links to Brian Riedl's important work on the subject.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 25, 2006 8:31 PM

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