By Vicki Needham
Two Republican senators are revisiting familiar territory — the line-item veto.
Sens. Dan Coats (Ind.) and John McCain (Ariz.), along with Democratic Sens. Tom Carper (Del.) and Mark Udall (Colo.), sent a letter on Tuesday to two heads of the congressional deficit-reduction committee urging them to include a constitutional line-item veto in its final deficit reduction package.
"While a line-item veto alone will not solve our problems, it is a good start to help rein in excessive government spending,” Coats said in the letter to co-chairmen Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
"A bipartisan group in Congress agrees that the line-item veto will help hold Washington accountable and ensure taxpayer dollars are used effectively," he said. "I will be working with the deficit committee to include this important tool in the final package it produces."
In 1996, Coats and McCain co-authored a line-item veto measure that became law. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional, a ruling opposed by Coats and McCain.
Coats and 40 senators support a measure that would give the president line-item veto authority to cut wasteful spending, and would address previously questionable constitutional questions.
"It represents a "budget scalpel" that will require Congress to hold an up or down vote on the president’s proposed cuts, providing additional transparency and accountability to the appropriations process," the letter said. "While it is not a silver bullet for eliminating the entirety of federal deficits, as part of a multi-pronged approach, expedited rescission authority is an important addition to our toolbox as we in Congress work to eliminate wasteful spending that is not in the best interest of our country."