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Line-Item Veto Bill Wins Bipartisan House Support
February 10, 2012—The House Feb. 8 voted 254-173 to approve a version of the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2012 (H.R. 3521) that blends amendments made during markups by the House Rules Committee Jan. 31 and Budget Committee Dec. 15, 2011 [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 22, 2011].
The House-passed bill would allow the president to strike funding for individual spending items included in congressionally approved appropriations bills by presenting such rescissions to Congress as a package within 10 days of each spending bill’s enactment. The bill grants the House and Senate three days to approve or reject each package of rescissions, without opportunity for amendment.
A total of 57 Democrats joined 197 Republicans in supporting the bill, introduced by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Opposition to the bill, however, is equally bipartisan, and includes senior members of both parties.
In remarks on the House floor, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) referenced the concern raised previously by several appropriators that the bill relinquishes Congress’s constitutional “power of the purse” authority to the executive branch. He noted, “Not only does the Line-Item Veto fly in the face of our Constitution and the Framers’ protections, but budget experts also doubt its effectiveness as a spending reduction tool,” since the rescission authority would not apply to mandatory spending “where the real problems lie.”
Meanwhile, the White House issued a Feb. 6 Statement of Administration Policy endorsing the bill as a tool “helping to eliminate unnecessary spending and discouraging waste.” The president proposed similar legislation, the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010, in May 2010, and in January 2011, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced a bill by the same name (S. 102) [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 11, 2011]. The Senate bill awaits consideration by the Senate Budget Committee with 42 cosponsors.
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