(Washington, DC) -- As Senators scrambled to clear unfinished business from the legislative calendar this week, the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) urged them to enact the House's pork-busting line-item veto bill before they adjourn.
"Congress has taken several modest steps toward kicking its wasteful spending habit in recent weeks, but now the Senate can make a major stride forward for fiscal responsibility," said NTU President John Berthoud. "By completing the work of their House colleagues, who gave a strong bipartisan vote for a carefully-designed line-item veto, Senators can send this vital legislation to the President. In the process, they'll be sending a message to taxpayers that Washington is serious about budget reform."
For the past two decades NTU has championed a Constitutional Amendment that would permit the President to delete individual, wasteful provisions from mammoth spending bills, subject to override by a 3/5 majority of Congress. On June 22, the House of Representatives voted decisively in favor (247-172) of giving the President a statutory prerogative known as the legislative line-item veto (H.R. 4890). Under this approach, the President would identify items in spending and tax bills with which he disagrees, and transmit his requests to Congress. The proposed rescissions would be treated as expedited legislation to be brought before the House and Senate for an up-or-down vote.
A June 16 open letter to lawmakers, organized by NTU and eight other citizen groups noted, "The American people are demanding that Congress and the President exercise fiscal discipline and this legislation provides and important tool in meeting that goal. Along with desperately-needed budget process reform, a legislative line-item veto is an essential concept which Congress should enthusiastically embrace."
According to Berthoud, the latter contention is even timelier, due to this month's enactment of legislation to make federal grant and contract funding data publicly accessible, and due to the House's internal rules change that will help fight the practice of "earmarking" on spending bills.
"Passage of the line-item veto is a key test of whether the recent budget reforms will be a welcome trend that taxpayers can applaud, or a temporary move that will leave taxpayers skeptical," Berthoud concluded. "By enacting this bill, Senators will be able to leave Washington on a high note after a year that's been marked by new lows for reckless spending."
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: to view the coalition letter as well as more information on budget process reform, visit www.ntu.org.