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Obama introduces legislation seeking wider authority to cut spending

US President Barack Obama sent legislation [text, PDF] to Congress on Monday that would give the president the ability to force Congress to vote on a repeal of spending provisions once they have been signed into law. Under the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010, the president would have 45 days after signing spending legislation into law to issue a rescission proposal specifying the amount to be rescinded, the agency or program that will be affected, and the president's reasons for the rescission request. After issuing the proposal, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) [official website] would be authorized to withhold disbursement of the funds "notwithstanding any other provision of law." After the rescission is proposed, it must be considered by the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives [official website] within four days, and must be voted on, without amendment, by the committee. Otherwise, the proposal will be automatically removed from committee, allowing any member of the House to move to consider the proposal. OMB Director Peter Orszag [official profile] promoted the bill [statement], stating:

The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act will empower the President and the Congress to eliminate unnecessary spending while discouraging waste in the first place. This is critically important both because we should never tolerate taxpayer dollars going to programs that are duplicative or ineffective and because, especially in the current fiscal environment, we cannot afford this waste.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) [official website] reacted favorably [press release] to the proposed legislation, but urged Obama to "call on Democrats in Congress to pass a real budget that reins in overall federal spending." Representative John Spratt (D-SC) [official website] will formally introduce [AP report] the bill later this week.

The proposed legislation is similar to that introduced to Congress by former president George W. Bush [official profile] in 2006, which was defeated in the Senate [official website] by a Democratic filibuster. In 1998, the Supreme Court [official website] ruled in Clinton v. City of New York [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the Line Item Veto Act (LIVA) [legislative materials] violated the Presentment Clause of the US Constitution [text], which only provides for the president to sign or veto a bill in its entirety. LIVA gave the president the unilateral ability to veto certain spending provisions after they had been signed into law, unless two-thirds of both houses of Congress voted to override the line item veto.

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