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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Veto Wasteful Spending and Protect Taxpayers Act of 2010 which establishes a constitutional line-item veto by creating an expedited rescissions process.

Yesterday, the Obama administration unveiled the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010. This legislation is very similar to my proposal which I first introduced in 2006. They both provide for an expedited rescission process. The line-item veto is not a panacea for record level deficits, but it will provide the President with the necessary tool to reduce wasteful spending.

Both bills will give the President the ability to target projects that have been added in spending bills that benefit special interests or are not necessary. I applaud President Obama for addressing this issue.

I have been a long-time advocate of the line-item veto. It has been a successful tool at the state level and I think it can effectively reduce spending on the Federal level. We have made progress with earmark reform and I think expedited rescission would result in further spending reductions.

The major difference between my legislation and the Administration's proposal is that the Veto Wasteful Spending and Protect Taxpayers Act of 2010 would allow the President to suspend and propose cancellation for discretionary spending, new direct spending, and limited tax benefits. The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010 focuses on discretionary spending. If we really want to tackle wasteful spending, I think we need to look at new entitlement spending and limited tax benefits, not just discretionary spending.

In 1996, the Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Line Item Veto Act, P.L. 104-130. Two years later, however, in Clinton v. City of New York the Supreme Court concluded that the method used to give the President line-item veto authority was unconstitutional. The Court noted that presidents may only sign or veto entire acts of Congress. The Constitution does not authorize presidents to enact, to amend or to repeal statutes.

We can restore the line item veto and be consistent with the Constitution. The key difference between what I am proposing and what the Supreme Court struck down is the legal effect of the President's actions. The Line Item Veto Act allowed the President to cancel provisions in their entirety, but the Supreme Court rejected this arrangement. My legislation will empower the President to suspend provisions until the Congress decides to approve or disapprove the suspension of that provision with an up or down vote. The provisions are not cancelled out of the legislation. I believe this change addresses the Supreme Court's concerns. My legislation also does not include a mechanism which allows a provision to be suspended for a lengthy time period.

Under the Veto Wasteful Spending and Protect Taxpayers Act of 2010, the President has 10 calendar days to submit to Congress a special message. The President may transmit two messages per bill, but a provision may only be proposed for suspension or cancellation one time. The House and Senate would consider the special message under a special process which does not allow for amendments or motions to strike.

I believe that the line-item veto is a valuable tool that should be made available to any President regardless of political party. For this reason, the Veto Wasteful Spending and Protect Taxpayers Act of 2010 is permanent, rather than sunsetting after a few years.

It is time to reinstate the line-item veto. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to return to the President the authority to rein in wasteful spending.

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