House Passes Modified Line Item Veto

Expedited rescission authority, a cousin of the line-item veto, has been considered countless times by Congress since the line item veto was declared unconstitutional in 1998. In fact, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas recently testified on this proposal, which can be found here. Yesterday, it has passed the House by a 254-173 vote.

The legislation--with the catchy title of the "Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act"--is a bipartisan product of the top two members of the House Budget Committee, Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The vote itself was also bipartisan, although a majority of Democrats voted against it.

Expedited rescission authority is a way to fast-track Presidential rescission requests. If the President makes such requests, Congress must act within 45 days with an up-or-down vote. This rescission authority is different from the line item veto in that the line item veto allows the President to directly cancel certain appropriations with Congressional action required to disapprove them. With this bill, however, Congress would vote to approve rescissions under an fast-tracked process, a change that is intended to prevent expedited authority from being declared unconstitutional.

As we have said in the past, this greater authority should help root out wasteful spending by making action, rather than inaction, on rescissions the norm instead of the exception. The authority can also act in a preventive manner by discouraging lawmakers from putting in extraneous spending. Although it is unknown what will happen with the bill next, we hope the Senate will consider and pass it.