Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) are introducing legislation today to give the president line-item veto authority to go after wasteful spending. The legislation is the latest effort in 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, Carper introduced legislation, the Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool Act, to create an expedited rescission authority for the president to help bring down spending. 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.
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. Cosponsors of Carper, Feingold and McCain's Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act include Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
"This legislation would provide the President and Congress with an important tool to cut wasteful spending and ensure that precious tax-payer dollars are being spent wisely and effectively," Senator Carper said. "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. By adopting these measures we can bring additional transparency and accountability to the appropriations process, and hopefully curb wasteful spending that isn't in the best interest of our country. While expedited rescission authority is not a silver bullet for eliminating the deficit, it can serve as a helpful addition to our toolbox as we work to eliminate wasteful spending. 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 Senators Feingold and 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. "
"I am pleased the president has joined my call for a line-item veto to target wasteful spending," Senator Feingold said. "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."
"After spearheading this issue for over a decade, I am proud to once again introduce legislation that allows any President to strike out egregious earmarks and wasteful spending," Senator 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'm pleased that the President has changed his position and now recognizes the importance of the line-item veto."
Fact Sheet on the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act
Among the key provisions of the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act are:
o 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.
o 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.
o Require the president to submit expedited rescission requests to Congress within 45 calendar days of signing the initial spending bill into law.
o 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.
o 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.