Bush seeks line-item veto on spending

March 07, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- President Bush asked Congress yesterday to give him limited authority to veto individual items in spending measures, resurrecting a top priority of fiscal conservatives.

Expressing optimism that the measure would win congressional approval and pass court tests, the White House said its proposal took into account objections the Supreme Court had raised in 1998 when it said a version of the veto provision signed two years earlier by President Clinton was unconstitutional.

In Congress, however, the outcome was less certain than presented by the White House.

Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate objected to the plan. However, it is likely to benefit from the momentum building among lawmakers to rein in "earmarks," the practice of adding to legislation spending measures that benefit only individual projects or communities.

Referring to the court's rejection of the law eight years ago, Bush said: "That should not be the end of the story."

He said his proposal would give him "the authority to strip special spending and earmarks out of a bill, and then send them back to Congress for an up-or-down vote."

"By passing this version of the line-item veto," Bush said, "the administration will work with the Congress to reduce wasteful spending, reduce the budget deficit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."

The president has frequently expressed his interest in obtaining the line-item veto. Democrats frequently point out the budget has gone from surplus to deficit during his five years in office, while Bush has not vetoed any legislation.

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