CHN: Line Item Veto: House Votes to Give President More Power and Diminishes Its Own

The House voted on June 22 to increase the President’s authority to make cuts in programs by allowing him to propose packages of cuts that Congress would have to vote up or down within 14 legislative days without possibility of amendment and with debate limited in the Senate.  The Legislative Line Item Veto Act (H.R. 4890) passed 247 – 172, with 15 Republicans voting against it and 35 Democrats voting in favor.
The bill allows the President to withhold funds from programs he proposes to cut for 90 days, even if Congress has already rejected the cuts.  The new authority applies to entitlement programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps as well as to annually appropriated services.  But it does not allow the President to veto or rescind most tax cuts.

The Senate Budget Committee included a similar provision in a sweeping package of proposals all intended to clamp down on spending while protecting tax cuts.  That bill (S. 3521), sponsored by Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-NH), was approved by the Budget Committee on June 20.  The breadth of Chairman Gregg’s proposal has attracted considerable opposition; it is not considered likely to reach the Senate floor in its current form.  Analysts remain concerned that the Senate will eventually take up line item veto legislation similar to the House bill, making it more likely that Congress will enact an unprecedented reduction of its own authority while concentrating more power with the executive.

For more details about the House and Senate proposals, see the June 16 Human Needs Report, Service Slashers Again Trying to Make Rules to Ensure Cuts.

For roll call vote of H.R. 4890, the Legislative Line Item Veto Act, see

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