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Fact Sheet: The Legislative Line-Item Veto: Constitutional, Effective, and Bipartisan

June 27, 2006

Today, President Bush Called On The Senate To Join The House And Quickly Pass The Line-Item Veto, So He Can Sign It Into Law. The line-item veto, already passed by the House, would allow Presidents to target pork in large spending bills. It is an essential part of the President's strategy to reform the budget process and enhance fiscal discipline. The line-item veto President Bush has submitted to Congress is constitutional, effective, and has bipartisan support.

  • A Line-Item Veto Is A Vital Tool A President Could Use To Target Unnecessary And Wasteful Spending. Tacking on spending to large bills is called "earmarking," and it often results in wasteful or unnecessary spending. Earmarks are frequently inserted into bills at the last minute, leaving little or no time to debate or amend them. Earmark sponsors often are not required to provide their colleagues with a reasoned justification for the proposed spending.

    • The Earmark Problem Is Getting Worse. According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks increased from about 3,000 to 13,000 over the last decade.
  • Americans Have A Right To Know That When They Send Their Hard-Earned Dollars To Our Nation's Capital, Those Dollars Will Be Used For Something That Is Necessary And Worthwhile. The American people know how earmarks can lead to wasteful spending, and they are aware that their money is sometimes spent on unnecessary projects.
  • By Coming Together On The Line-Item Veto, Democrats And Republicans Can:
    • Inject some common sense into the budget process;
    • Change the perverse incentives that encourage wasteful spending; and
    • Show the American people that being wise with the taxpayers' money transcends party labels.

President Bush's Line-Item Veto Legislation Is Constitutional

President Bush's Line-Item Veto Legislation Meets Constitutional Requirements. The Supreme Court struck down the 1996 version of the line-item veto because the Court concluded that it unconstitutionally permitted the President to unilaterally change a law passed by the Congress. Under President Bush's proposal, when the President determines that an earmark or spending provision is wasteful or unnecessary, he can send it back to Congress, and Congress is then required to hold a prompt up-or-down vote on whether to retain the targeted spending.

President Bush's Line-Item Veto Legislation Will Help Restrain Government Spending

The Line-Item Veto Will Address The Central Dilemma Created By Unwarranted Earmarks. When Members of Congress are faced with an important bill that includes wasteful spending tacked on by their colleagues, they have two bad options. Either they vote against the whole bill, including all the worthwhile spending, or they vote for the whole bill, including the wasteful spending. When such a bill comes to the President, he is left with the same bad choice – either he vetoes the whole thing, or he signs it with all the wasteful spending intact.

  • A Line-Item Veto Offers A Smarter Way To Handle Taxpayer Dollars. With a line-item veto, the President could approve the spending that is necessary, redline the spending that is not, and send the wasteful spending back to the Congress for an up-or-down vote.

  • By Passing Line-Item Veto Legislation, Congress Would Make Lawmakers Think Twice Before Trying To Sneak A Wasteful Project Into A Bill. When legislators know that their projects may be held up for closer public scrutiny, it discourages them from proposing this spending in the first place.

President Bush's Line-Item Veto Legislation Has Bipartisan Support

At The State Level, 43 Governors Already Have A Line-Item Veto, And They Are Almost Evenly Divided Between Democrats And Republicans. Governors from both parties use their line-item authority to restrain wasteful spending in their state budgets.

The Line-Item Veto Also Has Bipartisan Support In Congress. Thirty-five Democrats joined more than 200 Republicans in the House to pass the line-item veto last week. The Line-Item Veto now pending in the Senate also has bipartisan support, with Senator John Kerry as a cosponsor of the legislation. By coming together to pass this important reform, Congress will bring discipline to the budget process.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: The Legislative Line-Item Veto: Constitutional, Effective, and Bipartisan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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