The New Line-Item Veto Proposal: Constitutional But Weak?

Yesterday, President Obama sent Congress a proposal to enact the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010.  The bill would authorize the president to request that Congress rescind items of newly enacted budget authority. Congress would then accept or reject the proposed rescission in a vote by both houses.

Because the bill would not give the president the authority to make actual changes to legislation, it does not seem to present any constitutional problems. This fact, however, might also make the measure a weak weapon against spending. The same Congress that passed the funding measure would then have to decide whether it approves the original legislation or it agrees with the president that the rescission should take place. Although I can imagine certain circumstances where a president could prevail, in most circumstances, I could easily see Congress simply affirming the original funding.

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5 Responses

  1. Daigo says:

    Line Item Veto? Whatever happened to our country’s checks and balance system? That’s too much power for one man, even the president, to wield. But I suppose it doesn’t matter. With laws like Arizona’s in place, it seems this country is caring less and less about human decency:

  2. Logan Roise says:

    Can you even call this a line-item veto? A more proper name might be a “line-item request to re-think your previous decision, please.”

  3. Darren Hutchinson says:

    Logan Roise: I agree! It is only symbolic power.
    Daigo: See above.

  4. Aaron Bruhl says:

    I agree with your conclusion that this proposal (“expedited rescission”) solves the Clinton v. City of New York problem. It does raise some other interesting issues, such as whether Congress is really required to consider the President’s proposals on the expedited timetable and under the rules the statute provides.

    As far as whether it would have any practical effect, one can certainly imagine situations in which Congress would not just reaffirm the spending items. Some measures can pass when they are tucked away in a large and important bill but might not be able to pass when they have to stand on their own.

    For those who are interested in reading more, I have an article on this topic here:

  5. Anon says:

    This paper agrees with you, Logan:

    The line item veto is only symbolic. If Congress were serious about reining in spending, it would do something to stop the creation of all these omnibus bills.