[JURIST] President Bush announced Monday that he is sending new legislation to Congress that would give him "line-item" veto [definition] power over specific provisions in Congressional spending bills, allowing rejection of particular provisions without compromising entire legislative packages. Speaking at the White House swearing-in of new Council of Economic Advisers [official website] chair Edward Lazear, Bush said [White House transcript]:
Congress gave the President a line-item veto in 1996, but because with problems the way the law was written, the Supreme Court struck it down. That should not be the end of the story. So in my State of the Union I called for new legislation creating a line-item veto that will meet Supreme Court standards. Today, I'm sending Congress legislation that will meet standards and give me the authority to strip special spending and earmarks out of a bill, and then send them back to Congress for an up or down vote. By passing this version of the line-item veto, the administration will work with the Congress to reduce wasteful spending, reduce the budget deficit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spend wisely.Read a White House fact sheet on the proposal. In Clinton v. City of New York [text], the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in 1998 that the Line-Item Veto Act of 1996 [PDF], passed as part of the GOP's Contract with America program, was unconstitutional as giving the President unlawful power to amend acts of Congress inconsistent with Article V of the Constitution. The line-item power had only been infrequently used [NARA records], but after passage it became politically as well as legally unpopular as legislators saw pet projects struck off bills. The Bush proposal attempts to get around the Court's objection to the earlier legislation by empowering the President to send special proposals on spending earmarks to Congress which would then be subject to a required up-and-down vote, indirectly inserting the President into the lawmaking process at an earlier stage. A variant of the plan was roundly rejected by the House of Representatives in 2004 in a 174-237 vote. AP has more. Review a November 2004 Congressional Research Service background paper [PDF] on recent line item veto proposals.
Congress is on record, by the way, that the President should have the line-item veto authority. It has been approved previously. Forty-three governors have this line-item veto in their states. Now it's time to bring this important tool for fiscal discipline to Washington, D.C.
5:35 PM ET - The transcript of a press briefing by Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten on the President's line item veto legislation is now online from the White House. Read the full text of the proposed Legislative Line-Item Veto Act of 2006 [PDF].