Feingold and Ryan Team up to Target Wasteful Spending
First District Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Russ Feingold announced at a press conference this morning that they are introducing new legislation to create a line-item veto to target wasteful earmarks, improve congressional accountability, and deter lawmakers from inserting "Bridges to Nowhere" or other frivolous spending into future bills.
Feingold and Ryan, both from Janesville, have teamed up to advance their shared goal of eliminating wasteful spending and bringing greater fiscal discipline to Washington. The pair will introduce legislation in the House and Senate early this week that would enable the President to single out egregious earmarks in bills that arrive on his desk for signature and send these specific items back to Congress for expedited votes on whether to rescind, or cancel, funding for these provisions.
Their approach protects Congress' constitutional authority to make spending decisions by requiring both House and Senate to vote to approve the President's proposed rescissions, before they can become law. If either chamber votes against a rescission by a simple majority, it will not be enacted. As a result, this legislation is fundamentally different than the line-item veto the Supreme Court struck down in 1998, which did not require congressional approval for the President's rescissions to take effect.
"Coming from Wisconsin's long tradition of fiscal responsibility, we are convinced that this system has to change," Feingold said. "We think it's time to bring these earmarks out into the open, and make sure that they get the toughest possible scrutiny from both Congress and the President. There is no excuse for a system that allows that kind of wasteful spending year after year."
"There's too much pork in Washington, and we need every tool we can get to cut this pork out of spending bills," Ryan said. "The legislation we're proposing provides a tool to enforce spending restraint and get rid of abusive earmarks. It will also discourage members of Congress from trying to slip unjustifiable funding into large spending bills. If lawmakers know their earmarks could be singled out and sent back to Congress for a vote on their own merits, they will think twice about making unnecessary spending requests."
Among its key provisions, Ryan and Feingold's Congressional Accountability and Line-item Veto Act will:
Ensure timely congressional consideration of earmark rescission requests by the President. This will enable the President to propose the removal of wasteful earmarks from legislation that arrives on his desk for signature and send these earmarks back to Congress for expedited votes on whether or not to rescind funding.
Give the House and Senate 12 legislative days after the President sends a rescission request to Congress to bring a rescission bill for consideration on the floor of the full House and Senate.
Respect and preserve Congress' constitutional responsibilities by requiring that both the House and Senate pass a rescission request before it can become law. If either the House or Senate votes against a rescission by a simple majority, it is not enacted.
Require the President to submit earmark rescission requests to Congress within 30 calendar days of signing a bill into law.
Limit the number of rescission requests per bill, to guard against gridlock in Congress due to multiple rescission proposals. Under this legislation, the President can propose one rescission package per ordinary bill, or two rescission packages for omnibus legislation. Each rescission request may include multiple earmarks.
Sunset at the end of 2012, after two presidential administrations have had the opportunity to work with Congress to employ this tool to control spending. The sunset provision would give Congress the ability to review this legislation and decide whether to renew it.