A bipartisan group of US senators on Wednesday introduced the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act [S 3474 text], which would give presidents the authority to use a modified version of the line-item veto in order to cut spending. In a process known as expedited rescission, the president could single out non-entitlement spending items and earmarks in legislation and return the items to Congress for a new vote on funding the provisions. President Barack Obama [official website] supports the bill, having submitted a similar proposal [text, PDF; JURIST report] for Congress' consideration last month. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) [official website], a co-sponsor of the legislation, stressed the importance of the bill [press release] saying:
With our line-item veto proposal, any president would now have an effective way to prevent taxpayer dollars being wasted on special interest projects. Not only would the line-item veto help go after billions of dollars worth of unnecessary spending secretly tucked into larger bills, it would also shine a light on the earmark process and deter lawmakers from doing earmarks in the first place.Co-sponsor Senator John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] also praised the legislation saying it would "enable much needed fiscal restraint." Critics of the bill contend that it gives presidents too much power [NYT report]. The bill has been referred to the Senate Budget Committee [official website] for further consideration.
Congress originally granted presidents line-item veto power with the Line-Item Veto Act of 1996 [text PDF]. The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive], however, ruled in 1998 that the act was unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York [opinion text]. The Bush Administration submitted line-item veto legislation [text; JURIST report] to Congress in 2006 for further consideration. The legislation was advanced by the House committee and eventually passed by the full House of Representatives, but failed to gain Senate approval [JURIST reports].