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Mr. McCLINTOCK. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Chairman, this bill presents us with a very simple question: Is it just conceivably possible that the Congress has, from time to time, passed a spending bill or two that ought to have had greater scrutiny?
Now, the answer to that question may elude certain Members of this House, but I can assure them it is self-evident to everybody else. A country whose finances are as far out of control as ours suffers from not too many checks and balances on spending but from too few.
Now the opponents discuss this bill as if it were some new and radical idea. The fact is many States operate with a genuine line-item veto and have for generations. For those States, it's been a vital tool to control their spending, and those provisions are far more stringent than what is proposed here.
In conformance with our Constitution, this bill simply invites the President to call to Congress' attention those spending items that he recommends that we give additional thought to and puts a 6-week hold on those funds while we do so. In fact, from 1801 until 1974, the President had the recognized authority to impound excess spending indefinitely, a legitimate executive function first asserted by President Thomas Jefferson. The Budget Act of 1974 stripped the Executive of this vital check on congressional excess. I'd prefer to see us restore that fiscal safeguard; or, better still, amend the Constitution to provide the President with an actual line-item veto.
But let's at least set up a process so the President can warn us when he believes that we have appropriated more money than he needs to execute the laws that we have passed. This bill is, frankly, a mouse when we need a lion. The fact that it has produced shrieks of horror from some quarters of the House is an exact measure of the extent and nature of our problem.
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