The federal government is running deficits of more than $1 trillion a year. Today, our national debt exceeds $15 trillion. Now, more than ever, we must do everything we can to eliminate wasteful spending in Washington.
Last week, the House took a step in the right direction when we passed the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act.
The Constitution allows presidents to veto entire acts of Congress, but not specific pieces of them. Every president since Richard Nixon has wanted the authority to prune the waste he could plainly see in spending bills -- but those presidents couldn't because the bills had to be enacted or vetoed in their entirety.
Ronald Reagan was one of the most vocal about the need for a mechanism commonly called the line-item veto. He noted that governors of many states had such authority.
Today, 44 state constitutions provide their governors with line-item veto authority. Back in the 1990s, Congress tried to provide the president with the same authority. But the U.S. Supreme Court said that was an unconstitutional infringement on Congress, which is invested with the power of the purse.
The good news is we may have figured out a solution that would pass constitutional muster -- and could help reduce the national debt.
I was among those in the House who voted to pass the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act, which would allow Congress and the White House to work in collaboration to eliminate funding for projects that are a waste of your money.
The process is a bit cumbersome and clunky, but that's because it has to thread its way around legal roadblocks. Essentially, the president could recommend to Congress which line items to cut. Congress could then pass a new bill to exclude those line items opposed by the president.
One of the best features about this proposal is that any money saved would go toward deficit reduction.
The end result could be that millions, or even billions, of your dollars won't be tossed into the wind as favors to special interests.
We've still got work to do on this, but I'm optimistic that the logic of a line-item veto will give the president and Congress a tool to ensure your tax dollars are treated with the respect they deserve.