This was a vote on final passage of a bill that would allow the president to ask for clearance from Congress to cut individual items from spending bills.
The legislation would give the president a new, altered form of the “line-item veto” power that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. Under the bill, after Congress approved a spending bill, the president could comb through the legislation to identify wasteful or unnecessary items. The White House would send a list of proposed cuts to Congress and, if approved, could effectively veto those items.
Supporters of the bill argued that it would help cut wasteful spending. The new process would help the president cut pork barrel projects that are often slipped unnoticed into large pieces of legislation, they said.
“Spending has run rampant in Washington, and it's because ‘no’ is not a word that Congress is used to when it comes to spending,” Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) said. “There are far too many examples of spending absurdity to share today; but the fact is that needless projects are squandering away millions of dollars at a time when our country is facing a record-breaking $15 trillion debt. It's time to start changing the way Congress budgets and spends taxpayer money, and the line-item veto is a positive step.”
Opponents of the bill argued that it inappropriately surrendered power to the executive branch of government. The Constitution gives the legislative branch the “power of the purse,” and Congress should maintain it, they said. Opponents also argued that the bill would do very little to address the federal budget deficit because it was aimed at a tiny portion of federal spending.
“This bill grants the executive branch more power, and it will do little to reduce our deficit,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) said. “Make no mistake: This bill sacrifices congressional authority.”
The bill was passed by a vote of 254-173. Voting “yea” were 197 Republicans and 57 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 132 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 41 Republicans. As a result, the House approved legislation that would allow the president to ask for clearance from Congress to cut individual items from spending bills. However, to become law, the bill would have to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president.