U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the newest member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today cosponsored the Second Look at Wasteful Spending amendment, legislation giving line item veto authority to the President. The issue of granting line item veto authority to the President has historically divided members of the committee.
“If we’re going to get federal spending under control there are a number of reforms we need to enact, including the legislative line item veto,” Alexander, a long-time supporter of the reform, said. “Line item veto power gives the president the authority to guard against attempts to force unnecessary pork-barrel projects on taxpayers. Forty-three governors already have line item veto authority, and I continue to believe the President should have this tool as well.”
Currently, the President has the power to propose the elimination of spending items after appropriations bills have passed. Both the House and Senate then have to pass the cuts in the same form and send them back for the President’s signature. However, Congress can simply ignore the President's proposed cuts and refuse to act on them. The line item veto amendment would change this. It would stipulate that any member of Congress can bring up the President’s proposed cuts in the House or Senate and that, once introduced, the chamber must vote on it within eight days.
In 2006, Senator Alexander was an original cosponsor of S. 3521, the Stop Over Spending (SOS) Act, a package of budgetary reforms that included the line item veto. He recently reiterated his call for passage of biennial budgeting, which would consist of Congress passing a two-year budget during the first year and utilizing the second year to take a good look at what federal programs are working and what ones are not.
Alexander was named to the Senate Appropriations Committee by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Dec. 13. He is the first Tennessee Republican to ever serve on the panel.
The Second Look at Wasteful Spending amendment was offered to the Ethics Reform bill by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).