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In the face of mounting federal deficits, a bipartisan group of senators is taking another shot at giving the president line-item veto authority.  

Co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act would allow any president to single out earmarks and other nonentitlement spending for elimination or reductions. The bill would force Congress to take a vote on objectionable items any president sends back to Congress.  

“This legislation would provide the president and Congress with an important tool to cut wasteful spending and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and effectively,” Carper said in a statement. “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.”  

In 1996, the Line Item Veto Act was signed into law but was overturned two years later by the Supreme Court because it violated the Constitution.  

The Carper-McCain proposal attempts to avoid a similar fate by using the president’s current authority to propose cuts to a spending bill within 45 days of signing it into law — an authority that is little used because Congress rarely votes on the proposed cuts. The new legislation would change that by requiring an up-or-down vote if the cuts meet certain conditions:  

• The president must send Congress the proposed cuts within 45 days of signing a spending bill.  

• The cuts would apply only to discretionary and nonentitlement spending.  

• The president would propose changes only to the bill’s spending levels, not the bill itself.  

“Our line-item veto proposal,” McCain said in a statement, “will enable some much needed fiscal restraint and help to end the abuse of the American taxpayer dollar in pork-laden legislation.”