House and Senate Republican leaders offered a warm reception Monday to the Bush administration’s formal proposal to bring back the line-item veto, while Democrats in both chambers largely derided the measure as unnecessary.
Under the measure put forth by the White House, the president would be able to temporarily hold up spending on specific items, as well as the repeal of tax cuts, while asking Congress to approve those changes through an expedited legislative process.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) announced that he would introduce the measure along with Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“This responsible legislation will authorize the president to propose expedited rescission to spending and targeted tax benefits in a manner that preserves the constitutional responsibilities of both branches of government,” Frist said in a statement.
“We must continue to take a fiscally disciplined approach in government, and I look forward to considering this legislation,” he added.
While it remained unclear Monday who would introduce the measure in the House, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) embraced the concept as “a positive tool for good governing and fiscal responsibility.”
“Waste is waste, and all of us have a responsibility to help root it out and protect the American taxpayers’ dollars,” said Hastert, who supported a 1996 line-item veto measure that was subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court.
A Hastert spokesman added that the House version of the bill is expected to be introduced in coming days.
“The proposal should be introduced this week, with committee consideration of line-item veto shortly thereafter,” said spokesman Ron Bonjean. Jurisdiction of the matter would likely be divided among the House Rules and Budget panels.
According to a copy of the proposal issued by the White House, the Line Item Rescission Act of 2006 would allow the president to put a temporary hold of up to 180 days on any items included in Appropriations bills or other direct spending legislation. Additionally, it would give the executive office the ability to temporarily halt the repeal of any tax breaks.
Under the legislation, the president would also be required to issue a message to Congress detailing the items to be rescinded, as well as draft legislation that would be used to make those changes official in law.
After receiving the message, House and Senate leadership would be allowed two days to introduce the legislation before the measure would become available to any Member to introduce.
Once introduced, the bill would be assigned to committee for a five-day period. While the committees could vote on the measure, it must be returned to the floor “without substantive revision and with or without recommendation” under the proposed law.
Should a panel fail to take action on the measure during the five-day period, however, it would be automatically discharged and returned to the House or Senate floor.
To expedite bills related to a line-item veto, which must be passed within 10 session days from the time it is introduced, neither chamber would be permitted to amend the legislation. In addition, debate on the matter would be limited to four hours in the House and 10 hours in the Senate.