Rep. DeSantis speaks out in support of line-item veto power

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 29, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST: The president wants veto power on spending bills. So, now one lawmaker is trying to make it happen.

Florida Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis is trying to amend the Constitution and allow a line item veto. He joins me right now.


And I understand congratulations are in order.

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLORIDA: Oh, yes. Thank you. We had our second child, a little healthy baby boy named Mason. He is doing great. Mom is doing great.

REGAN: Aww. And, now, this is your second child. You have a little girl at home already?

DESANTIS: That's right. Her name is Madison. And she's a pistol and a very good little girl.

REGAN: Well, I'm sure she will be a very good big sister for your new son, Mason. Congratulations to you and to your wife and your daughter, your whole family.

Congressman, let's get to this plan you have to basically allow the president the ability to go through a budget and say, uh-uh, don't like this and veto it. Explain it to us.

DESANTIS: Well, you saw last week there was a 2,300-page spending bill that Congress passed within 24 hours of it being unveiled to the public.
No member read the bill.

So, there's all kinds of stuff packed into that. And the president under current law is left with the decision, do I veto the entire thing and then fund nothing, or do I sign it, knowing that I'm signing spending into law that really isn't in the best interest of taxpayers?

I mean, for example, there was over $200 million in the omnibus for promoting democracy in Europe. Now, Europe is the birthplace of democracy. I don't know why we need to be spending that kind of money. And there were all kind of other examples.

So, if you had a line item veto, the president would get a spending bill. What he could do is, yes, he could sign the overall bill, but in the process of doing that, veto individual line item appropriations within that bill.

And then what would happen is, if you vetoed a number of line items that would go back to the Congress. Congress would have the ability to override the president with two-thirds votes, just like a normal veto.

But what it would do is, it would provide a backstop against the excessive spending. I mean, right now, all the incentives are to continue to spend. A line item veto, that really gives the president the ability to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely.

REGAN: Congressman, my question was going to be, does this somehow hurt Congress' ability to have the kind of authority that they want, that they need? And you basically answered that question by saying that, if the president vetoes it, it would then get kicked back to Congress. So there's another opportunity. Yes?

DESANTIS: Just liked any other bill.

But I would say, Trish, when you're talking about the power of the purse, the real bite to the power of the purse constitutionally and what the founders believed was the ability to withhold funds.

So, if the executive branch is acting in a certain way, then Congress would simply not fund those activities that it found disagreeable. And the line item veto, the president cannot demand more spending with it. It only can be used to reduce spending.

REGAN: We haven't we done anything like this before?

DESANTIS: Well, they actually passed a version in the '90s under Newt Gingrich with the Contract with America. It got over two-thirds of both houses of Congress. But it was done statutorily, so it ended up being challenged in the court, and the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in 1999 that it violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution.

I think that was a wrong decision. I think that what they did in the '90s was totally proper. But, nevertheless, that's where we find ourselves.


DESANTIS: So, any proposal going forward is going to have to reckon with that decision and make sure that we're either working around it statutorily or just making the constitutional change, so that the courts won't even get involved at that point.

REGAN: OK. And I know you're introducing it next week, so you will have your work cut out for you on many fronts.

Congratulations, again, on the beautiful little boy.

DESANTIS: Thank you.

REGAN: Congressman, thanks.


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