Politics

Lawmakers Prepare New Line-Item Veto Bill for Obama to 'Test Drive'

A bipartisan group is giving the line-item veto another go at it, albeit with some key tweaks, more than a decade after the Supreme Court struck down the procedure as unconstitutional.

Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Wednesday will announce the introduction of a Line-Item Veto Act, which would enable the president to strike individual items like earmarks from a spending bill before signing it.  

The White House has signaled that it is open to the idea. Asked about being given that authority, spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters last week: "Well, I can assure you he'd love to take that for a test drive." 

A Feingold spokesman noted that this bill is different than the law -- passed in 1996 but ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998 -- because it would require Congress to approve the president's vetoed package protecting Congress' constitutional authority. A simple majority in the House and Senate would be needed.

"We are proposing a line-item veto that takes a balanced approach, giving the president power to send earmarks back to Congress, and requires Congress to vote, under fast-track procedures, on whether or not those earmarks should be included in the final bill," Feingold and Ryan wrote in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Monday. "To guard against gridlock in Congress, the earmarks would be packaged together, rather than being treated separately."

The lawmakers say their proposal would not give the president authority to rewrite major portions of entitlement legislation and reduces the chance of political gamesmanship by preventing the president from repackaging eliminated items in a different form. 

"He gets one shot for each provision he wants to cancel, and he has to act within 30 days," they wrote.