Sens. Carper, McCain Reintroduce Line-Item Veto Proposal

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) reintroduced legislation to give the president line-item veto authority to reduce wasteful spending. The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act (S.102) was first introduced by Sens. Carper and McCain, as well as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), during the 111th Congress. President Obama called on Congress last year to pass line-item veto legislation, and the legislation reintroduced today is nearly identical to the president’s proposal. Cosponsors of the legislation include Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Scott P. Brown (R-Mass.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act would enable any president to single out earmarks and other non-entitlement spending in legislation that is sent to the White House for the president’s signature. The president would then send those specific items back to Congress for expedited votes on whether or not to cancel or reduce funding for the provisions.

The reintroduction of the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act is Sens. Carper’s and McCain’s latest effort in their long history of advocating for a line-item veto. In 1992, Sen. Carper authored line-item veto legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives. In addition, he introduced the Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool Act in 2009 to create an expedited rescission authority for the president to help curb spending. Also in 2009, Sen. McCain introduced the Congressional Accountability and Line-Item Veto act with Sen. Feingold and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“This legislation would provide the president and Congress with an important tool to cut wasteful spending and ensure that tax-payer dollars are being spent wisely and effectively,” said Sen. Carper. “This ‘budget scalpel’ will empower the president to make targeted cuts to trim the fat from spending bills and require Congress to hold an up or down vote on the president’s proposed cuts, providing additional transparency and accountability to the appropriations process. While expedited rescission authority is not a silver bullet for eliminating the federal deficit, it can serve as a helpful addition to our toolbox as we work to eliminate wasteful spending that isn’t in the best interest of our country. As a former governor who had similar discretion to cut unnecessary state spending, I’ve long advocated for the president to have this enhanced power. I look forward to working with Sen. McCain, our Congressional colleagues and the administration to quickly enact the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act as part of our larger efforts to restore fiscal responsibility to the federal government.”

“After spearheading this issue for over a decade, I am proud to once again reintroduce legislation that allows any president to strike out egregious earmarks and wasteful spending,” said Sen. McCain. “Our line-item veto proposal will enable some much needed fiscal restraint and help to end the abuse of the American taxpayer dollar in pork-laden legislation. I’m pleased that the president has changed his position and now recognizes the importance of the line-item veto.”

“In today’s lean economy, we need to trim the fat off where we can. Giving the President line-item veto power is just one practical step to getting our federal budget back into shape,” said Sen. Udall. “I’ve advocated for this type of reform since my days in the House, and am glad to once again support it as part of a multi-pronged approach by Congress to be responsible stewards of the public dollar.”

“As a country we must set out priorities and address our deficit to provide future generations of Alaskans and Americans a sound financial future,” said Sen. Begich. “To do this we must have the right tools for the job. The line-item veto will help cut wasteful spending and protect Alaskans’ tax dollars by promoting and enforcing fiscal responsibility.”

“It is time Washington starts making smart choices to reduce the debt and deficit, so we don’t stick our children with the bill,” said Sen. Bennet. “The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act would give us another tool to help put our budget, and our economy, back on track.”

“The line-item veto is one of several important budget tools that will help stop rampant government spending. It isn’t a cure-all but it is part of the mix that should be available for this administration and those that follow,” said Sen. Enzi.

“It is important that we have every tool available to help eliminate wasteful spending,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This proposal can increase transparency and accountability and help reduce the deficit. At a time when middle-class families are making tough decisions with their budgets, Washington needs to do the same.”

“This bill creates another tool to help us get the budget under control and address our deficit. Congress should pass this legislation without delay,” said Sen. McCaskill.

“In a time of record debt and deficits, I am pleased to join my colleagues in calling for a line-item veto that would allow our current and future presidents to make good on their responsibility to strike wasteful spending from legislation that comes before them,” said Sen. Thune. “This tool would help cut unnecessary spending and help tackle our ever-increasing national debt.”

Fact Sheet on the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act

Among the key provisions of the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act are:

  • Ensure timely congressional consideration of cuts in earmarks and other non-entitlement spending when requested by the president. This will enable the president to effectively propose the elimination of earmarks and other wasteful spending from legislation that arrives on his desk for signature and send them back to Congress for expedited votes on whether or not to rescind funding.
  • Respect and preserve Congress’ constitutional responsibilities by requiring that both the House and Senate pass a rescission request before it can become law. If either the House or Senate votes against a rescission by a simple majority, it is not enacted.
  • Require the president to submit expedited rescission requests to Congress within 45 calendar days of signing the initial spending bill into law.
  • Limit the number of rescission requests per bill, to guard against gridlock in Congress due to multiple rescission proposals. Under this legislation, the president can propose one rescission package per ordinary bill, or two rescission packages for omnibus legislation. Each rescission request may include multiple spending cuts, but no single spending cut may be requested in more than one rescission bill.
  • Sunset at the end of 2015, after two presidential administrations have had the opportunity to work with Congress to employ this tool to control spending. The sunset provision would give Congress the ability to review this legislation and decide whether to renew it.