Thursday, March 09, 2006

Give Bush the line-item veto

President Bush, who has yet to veto a single bill, has asked Congress for line-item veto authority.

He should get it. Though I doubt it will make much difference in his hands, given his lack of vetoes to date, it's one of the most effective ways to keep Congress from slipping bad legislation into "must pass" bills. It should be enshrined into law for the sake of future presidents who might actually use it.

Here's what Bush has proposed:

The legislation would allow the president to defer spending on items with which he disagrees, while signing the rest of a bill. Congress would then have 10 days to vote up or down on whether to fund the disputed items, without amendment or filibuster. Passage would be by majority, not the two-thirds margin traditionally required to override a veto.

It's a bit more cumbersome than most people would like, because it's trying to get around the problems with the last line-item veto, which the Supreme Court decided was unconstitutional in 1996. But it's probably the best we can do at the moment.

To *really* fix the problem would take a Constitutional amendment granting the president line-item authority. That's one of the few amendment proposals I could get behind.

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