Senate Should Vote No on Line-item Veto Bill

By:  Ann Shibler
Senate Should Vote No on Line-item Veto Bill

On Feb. 8 the House passed H.R. 3521, the unconstitutional, line-item veto bill; the Senate should defeat it.

There was general debate on the floor of the House on a new line-item veto bill sponsored by Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Wednesday, Feb. 8, immediately preceding a vote. The Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2012 (H.R. 3521) would give the President the authority to rescind all or part of any dollar amount of funding for discretionary spending items in enacted appropriations bills.

Although both Houses of Congress would have to approve any such rescissions, they would be forced to do so very quickly by the bill's expedited procedures, including a prohibition on amendments in both Houses and filibusters in the Senate.

During the House floor debate, H.R. 3521 was touted as one tool in the tool box of deficit reduction, a modest attempt to control spending. Rep. Van Hollen was quick to assure everyone that the constitutionality “question needs to be put to rest,” because Congress would have the last say in the matter through an up or down vote, even though H.R. 3521 dramatically and unilaterally enhances the power of the Executive Branch. Note that Article I, Section 1 and Article I, Section 7, Clauses 2 and 3 of the U.S. Constitution vest Congress with all legislative powers. Any bill that shifts legislative power away from Congress and to the President is unworthy of Congress and shows an abdication and dereliction of congressional duties.

Many think this line-item veto legislation is a mere distraction or far worse, a deliberate cover-up by Congress for its over-budget spending habits and lack of adherence to constitutional principles.

Line item veto power has traditionally been abused and misused. The Supreme Court struck down a line item veto law from the Clinton era due to the separation of powers issue.

Congressmen, like alcoholics, first need to admit they are at fault for the gigantic deficit and the indescribable national debt. Then they must get busy and realistically slash the spending. But, apparently, members of Congress just want to be well-paid, well-perked figureheads, and turn the country over to the Executive Branch, against all the warnings of the Founding Fathers, inflating the importance of the presidency in the process.

Why Republicans are overwhelmingly in favor of such a measure at this time is truly puzzling. On February 8, the vote on H.R. 3521 was 254 to 173 with 197 Republicans in favor and only 41 dissenting. It now goes to the Senate.

Find out how your Rep voted (click here to look up your Rep), and if he or she needs educating on the dangerous nature of a line-item veto, send them an email or a letter.  And please immediately contact your Senators on this important matter before they vote.

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