|Line Item Veto Debate|
Reps. Solomon and Skaggs
June 20, 1997
in this forum:
Should the Court even rule on this case? What is the experience in the states with L.I.V.s? Why do we need a line item veto now? Would the LIV have helped pass the disaster relief bill? Wasn't it Congress' decision to give the President this veto? Isn't this an example of Congress not taking responsibility for its own duties?
General information, schedules and past Freshmen Forums.
Return to @the Capitol.
Scrutinize the work of several major Congressional committees in online forums with the chairs and ranking members.
Follow the first year in Congress of Freshmen Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Jay Johnson (D-WI)
A question from Steven Siciliano of East Islip, NY:
The line item veto is an absolute slap to the principle of separation of powers. This republic is over 200 years old, why do this now? Out those members of Congress who are attaching these riders and make them explain to the public why this is being proposed. Don't alter the Constitution.
Rep. Solomon responds:
First of all, the current line item veto law is not an amendment to the Constitution. It is a statutory delegation of authority to the President by the Congress. Secondly, the first spending bill passed by Congress in the 1790's was only one page in length and funded the entire U.S. government. Today due to the size of the federal government and its $1.6 trillion budget, Congress passes dozens of spending bills, each hundreds of pages in length. The line item veto will allow the President to comb through these large bills and extract unnecessary spending items.
Rep. Skaggs responds:
The separation and balance of powers among the branches of government have served the country well for over 200 years. The Line Item Veto Act would upset this balance by giving President legislative power to repeal parts of law, without the participation of the Congress. As the federal district court found in the case, if this scheme were constitutional, then the Congress could similarly give the President the power to cancel the nation's civil rights laws or environmental laws.
The district court concluded that the Line Item Veto Act is unconstitutional because it delegated basic legislative authority to the President in violation of the Constitution's requirement that "all legislative powers" of the United States be vested in the Congress. As the district court said, "Congress has turned the constitutional division of responsibilities for legislating on its head." The drafters of the Constitution were right to separate powers among the branches of the federal government, and the district court was right to find that the Line Item Veto Act violates the separation of powers.