House Approves Weaker Line Item Veto

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - In a vote of 242 to 172, the House Thursday approved a bill giving President Bush more power to strike down "pork barrel" spending projects, but it is a watered-down version of the line-item veto law struck down by the Supreme Court in 1998.

The Legislative Line Item Veto Act of 2006 (H.R. 4890) is considered weaker than the one Republicans gave President Clinton in 1996. That bill gave Clinton the ability to single out items from appropriations and tax bills unless Congress could come up with a two-thirds vote to override his decision.

The line item veto will expire after six years but not before it gives the president and his successor a way to single out items in appropriations bills that he signs into law, sending those items back to Congress to vote on again.

"The success of this bill will be less in the amount of pork that we line-item veto out and more in how much pork never gets put into the legislation in the first place," the Associated Press quoted the bill's sponsor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as saying.

"House Republicans are fighting for reform. With this bill we give the President a tool to help us rein in wasteful spending and improve accountability," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert in a statement.

"This bill will put in place guidelines to help us continue to keep a close eye on federal spending and build on our progress of holding discretionary spending growth to less than inflation, cutting non-defense spending, and slowing the growth of entitlement spending," said Hastert.

"House Republicans are committed to reducing wasteful spending and shrinking the budget deficit in a way that is consistent with the Constitution. Today 156 Democrats showed their lack of commitment to reform and voted against this measure. It's time for them to stand up for change and support real budget reform," Hastert added.

Joining most of the Republicans in voting for the bill were 35 Democrats. Fifteen Republicans voted against it.

"I along with colleagues in the Republican Study Committee have made this legislation one of our top priorities, and I believe its passage is a significant step toward greater fiscal responsibility," said Congressman Todd Akin (R-Mo.) in a statement.

"Allowing the President the authority of a line item veto is a much needed fundamental reform. We have seen too many flagrant excesses, such the infamous bridge to nowhere," Akin added.

Democrats complained that "pork barrel" spending significantly increased under the Republican-controlled Congress.

"You control all mechanisms of spending. You control the House, you control the Senate, you control the presidency and you need help before you spend again," the Associated Press quoted Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) as saying. "What is this, Comedy Central?"

The bill's future in the Senate is uncertain.

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