Washington, D.C. - Legislation introduced in June by U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and John McCain (R-AZ), which gives the president authority similar to a line-item veto to go after wasteful spending, is gaining momentum in the Senate. The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act would enable any president to single out earmarks or other non-entitlement spending in legislation that arrives on his desk for signature. The president could then send these specific items back to Congress for expedited votes on whether to cancel or reduce funding for the provision. The bill was originally cosponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Since being introduced, an additional 13 cosponsors from both parties have signed on, including Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Ensign (R-NV), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
"I want to thank my colleagues who have joined our push to reign in wasteful spending by providing the President with this important 'budget scalpel,'" Sen. Carper said. "Empowering the President to propose cuts to spending bills and requiring Congress to hold an up or down vote on the proposed cuts is a common sense measure whose time has come. As a former Governor who had similar process for cutting unnecessary state spending, I've long advocated for the President to have this common sense power. While enhanced rescission authority is not the silver bullet for eliminating the deficit, it is an important part of our broader effort to put our fiscal house in order."
"I was pleased when President Obama got behind this effort to enact a line-item veto to go after wasteful spending. This recent surge of support in the Senate is helping move our bill closer to becoming law," Sen. Feingold said. "If we are going to successfully bring down the deficit, the best place to start is cutting wasteful and unnecessary spending, which this bill would effectively do. 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."
"After spearheading this issue my entire Senate career, I am proud of this legislation that allows any President to strike out egregious earmarks and wasteful spending and the momentum building around it," Sen. John McCain said. "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 was pleased when the President recently changed his position and recognized the importance of the line-item veto and I am happy to see more of my colleagues in the Senate are realizing its necessity as well."
The legislation is the latest effort in Sen. Carper's long history of advocating for a line-item veto, including authoring legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives in 1992. Last year, Sen. Carper introduced legislation, the Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool Act, to create an expedited rescission authority for the president to help bring down spending. Sens. Feingold and McCain also have a long history of pushing for a line-item veto, including the Congressional Accountability and Line-Item Veto Act they introduced last year along with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). President Obama recently asked Congress to pass line-item veto legislation and the legislation introduced today is nearly identical to the president's recently laid-out proposal.
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 2014, 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.
Rescissions made by Congress would go toward deficit reduction.