The Senate is moving toward its first vote in more than a decade on the line-item veto, and it’s remarkable how much has changed â€“ particularly the positions of many of the major players.
At issue is a watered-down GOP measure that would allow a president to scrutinize spending bills he signs into law for questionable items and then submit cuts, or rescissions, to Congress for a vote.
Remember, the reason there hasn’t been a vote on this in “more than a decade” is because the Supreme Court struck down the previous line-item veto from Congress as unconstitutional. In a rare decision that opposed Congress and the expansion of government power, the Court rules that the Constitution did not give Congress the power to hand such authority to the President.
Since only Constitutional Amendments, and not time, can change the enumerated powers of the Constitution…this remains true today.
As Justice John Paul Stevens said in 1996:
“the procedures authorized by the line-item veto act are not authorized by the Constitution.”
And, as we state repeatedly here, the “powers not delegated….are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the People.”
The only way that Congress can give that power to the President is through the passing of a Constitutional Amendment. In his 1996 majority opinion, Stevens concurred:
“If there is to be a new procedure in which the president will play a different role in determining the text of what may become a law, such change must come not by legislation but through the amendment procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution.”
Proponents of the constitutional change say that this will give the president a “valuable tool” for eliminating waste in the federal budget. But, there’s already a clear and simple veto procedure in the Constitution.
The problem we face isn’t the lack of power for the president to veto line-by-line.
The problem we face is that we have a Congress that passes 100+ page legislation without ever reading it. The problem we face is that our Presidents refuse to veto bills that have “riders” or “lines” in them that are bad for the nation. The problem we face is that we have a government that repeatedly legislates away our rights.
Giving even more power to an already overly-powerful executive branch will do nothing to secure our liberty.
Taking away a great deal of that power will.