|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?
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A question from Seth Applewhite of Weehawken, NJ:
It seems to me that the line item veto is yet another attempt by Congress to say help us before we kill again. We have seen the term limits movement because Congress cannot create an equitable elections system. We have seen the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution because Congress cannot control spending. An now we have the line item veto because Congress cannot help but include extraneous pork in bills. If the Congress was held more accountable, wouldn't all these amendments be unnecessary?
Rep. Skaggs responds:
I agree that the Congress tried to finesse its own responsibilities when it passed the Line Item Veto Act. We in Congress should make the tough decisions the Constitution assigns to Congress. A so-called "expedited rescission procedure" contained in a bill I introduced would authorize the President to require immediate Congressional reconsideration and a separate vote on any specific items in an appropriations bill. That's the best way to eliminate spending items that are unnecessary or unwise.
Let's adopt the expedited rescission bill so that the President can, if he questions a particular spending item, require the Congress to reconsider it with a separate up-or-down vote. That's the way to preserve Congressional accountability, eliminate wasteful spending items, and still respect the Constitution.
Rep. Solomon responds:
The first line item veto bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1876 in an attempt to deal with the exact problem we sought to address by passing it 120 years later. Ultimately, no procedure or method is going to force Congress to make the right choices. However, we as Congress can and should construct a budget process that seeks to make it harder to make wrong choices. The line item veto is such a process. It places another hurdle in the path of poor budget decisions. Alexander Hamilton stated in the Federalist Papers over 200 years ago that the more often a measure is examined the less likely it is that mistakes are going to proceed from it. The President makes decisions with the whole country in mind whereas most Members of Congress are by the very nature of representative government bound to make decisions based on the best interests of the region of the country they represent. Regardless of the character of the Members of Congress, the line item veto is good policy for America.