U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the newest member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today voted for Senator Judd Gregg’s Second Look at Wasteful Spending amendment, a measure giving legislative line-item veto authority to the President. The issue of granting this authority to the President has historically divided members of the Appropriations Committee. The amendment failed when a procedural vote on whether to bring it up for a final vote garnered only 49 of the necessary 60 votes.
“There are plenty of forces in Washington for increasing spending,” Alexander said. “There are not enough forces that push to reduce spending. The Gregg proposal would be one tool the President and the Congress can use to reduce spending.
“I know when I was Governor I had this authority and 43 Governors currently have the line-item veto,” he added. “In Tennessee, it is not much of a line-item veto because the Governor's veto can be overridden by a majority of the legislature. But just because I had the veto and the fact that I might have used it, and occasionally did use it, helped me put the spotlight on wasteful spending and gave the legislature a chance to reconsider or think twice about what they might do.”
Sen. Gregg’s amendment would require Congress to hold up or down votes on the President’s proposals for cutting earmarked spending, new mandatory spending or specially targeted tax breaks that have been previously approved by Congress.
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 legislative 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, 2006. He is the first Tennessee Republican ever to serve on the panel.