Tackling Wasteful Spending the Wisconsin Way
by Congressman Paul Ryan
Although Senator Russ Feingold and I have had our differences of opinion over the years, one thing we see eye-to-eye on is the need for the federal government to stop squandering taxpayer dollars on "Bridges to Nowhere" and other pork-barrel boondoggles. That's why we have introduced new legislation to create a line-item veto to target wasteful earmarks, improve congressional accountability, and deter lawmakers from inserting frivolous spending into future bills.
Our bipartisan proposal would enable the President to single out certain wasteful 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.
This approach protects Congress' constitutional authority to make spending decisions because it requires both the House and Senate to vote on the President's proposed rescissions before they can become law. If either chamber of Congress votes against a rescission, it will not be enacted.
There's too much pork in Washington, and we need every tool we can get to cut this pork out of spending bills. Our legislation will also discourage politicians 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, our 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.
* 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.