Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are reintroducing legislation to create a line-item veto to target wasteful earmarks, improve congressional accountability, and deter lawmakers from inserting “Bridges to Nowhere” or other frivolous spending into future bills. The legislation would enable the president to single out egregious earmarks in bills that arrive on his desk for signature and send these specific items back to Congress for expedited votes on whether to rescind, or cancel, funding for these provisions.
“In order to meet the great economic challenges we are facing, we’ll need to tighten our belts and work across party lines,” Feingold said. “This legislation does both. Congress should set an example by passing this legislation which takes a serious step toward curbing wasteful spending.”
“There is no more compelling argument to granting the President line-item veto power than the more than 9,000 earmarks in the current Omnibus bill,” said Senator John McCain. “Our proposal will allow the President to submit earmark rescission requests to Congress – this will help to impose some much needed fiscal restraint and aid in the removal of wasteful spending from pork-laden legislation. I am also confident that as drafted, this new and necessary line item veto will meet constitutional muster.”
"With American families making tough budgetary decisions, it is shameful that their elected officials can't do the same," added Ryan. "The Line-Item Veto will equip the President with an important tool to change business as usual in Washington. Congress must earn back the trust of those they serve to tackle our most pressing economic and fiscal challenges."
The country is facing $1.8 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year and the Omnibus Appropriations bill heading for the president’s desk includes over 8,500 earmarks totaling an estimated $7.7 billion. While the proposal gives the President an important tool to go after that unjustified spending it also protects Congress’ constitutional authority to make spending decisions by requiring both House and Senate to vote to approve the president’s proposed rescissions, before they can become law. If either chamber votes against a rescission by a simple majority, it will not be enacted. As a result, this legislation is fundamentally different than the line-item veto the Supreme Court struck down in 1998, which did not require congressional approval for the president’s rescissions to take effect. On February 25, 2009, when asked if the president was for a line-item veto during a White House briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president would “love to take that for a test drive.”
Fact Sheet on the Line-Item Veto Legislation
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have reintroduced legislation to create a line-item veto to target wasteful earmarks, improve congressional accountability, and deter lawmakers from inserting "Bridges to Nowhere" or other frivolous spending into future bills. Among its key provisions, the Congressional Accountability and Line-item Veto Act will:
- Ensure timely congressional consideration of earmark rescission requests by the President. This will enable the president to propose the removal of wasteful earmarks from legislation that arrives on his desk for signature and send these earmarks back to Congress for expedited votes on whether or not to rescind funding.
- Give the House and Senate 12 legislative days after the President sends a rescission request to Congress to bring a rescission bill for consideration on the floor of the full House and Senate.
- Respect and preserve Congress’ constitutional responsibilities by requiring that both the House and Senate pass a rescission request before it can become law. If either the House or Senate votes against a rescission by a simple majority, it is not enacted.
- Require the President to submit earmark rescission requests to Congress within 30 calendar days of signing a bill into law.
- Limit the number of rescission requests per bill, to guard against gridlock in Congress due to multiple rescission proposals. Under this legislation, the President can propose one rescission package per ordinary bill, or two rescission packages for omnibus legislation. Each rescission request may include multiple earmarks.
- Sunset at the end of 2014, after two presidential administrations have had the opportunity to work with Congress to employ this tool to control spending. The sunset provision would give Congress the ability to review this legislation and decide whether to renew it.