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Statement on Signing the Line Item Veto Act

April 09, 1996

Today I am very pleased to sign into law S. 4, the Line Item Veto Act.

This new law shows what we can achieve when we put our partisan differences aside and work together for the Nation. Members of both parties have fought for this legislation because they believed that no matter which party has control of the White House or the Congress, the line item veto would be good for the country.

I have consistently supported a Presidential line item veto as a Governor, as a candidate for President in 1992, and as President the last 3 years.

Starting with Ulysses S. Grant, Presidents of both parties have sought the line item veto so they could eliminate waste in the Federal budget. Most recently, Presidents Reagan and Bush called for its passage, as did many Members of Congress.

With this authority, Presidents will have a valuable new tool to ensure that the Federal Government is spending public resources as wisely as possible. It will permit the President to cancel discretionary spending, new entitlement authority, and tax provisions that benefit special interests at the expense of the public interest.

This carefully defined authority is also a practical and principled means of serving the constitutional balance of powers. The modern congressional practice of presenting the President with omnibus legislation reduces the President's ability to play the role in enacting laws that the Constitution intended. This new authority brings us closer to the Founders' view of an effective executive role in the legislative process. The President will be able to prevent the Congress from enacting special interest provisions under the cloak of a 500- or 1,000-page bill. Special interest provisions that do not serve the national interest will no longer escape proper scrutiny.

No one, of course, believes the line item veto is a cure-all for the budget deficit. Indeed, even without the line item veto, we are already cutting the deficit in half—as I had promised to do when I ran for President. But the line item veto will provide added discipline by ensuring that as tight budgets increasingly squeeze our resources, we will put our public funds to the best possible uses.

I call on the leaders of the Congress, in the spirit of bipartisanship reflected in today's bill signing, to join me in continuing to make progress. We should move ahead by reaching an agreement to balance the budget by 2002.

Over the last several months, I have worked closely with congressional leaders to reach such an agreement. In fact, we have about $700 billion in common savings. We should finish our work this year.


The White House, April 9, 1996.

NOTE: S. 4, approved April 9, was assigned Public Law No. 104-130.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Line Item Veto Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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