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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By. Mr. KERRY:

S. 2372. A bill to amend the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 to provide for the expedited consideration of certain proposed cancellations of appropriations, new direct spending, and limited tax benefits; to the Committee on the Budget.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President. I am pleased to introduce legislation today that establishes a constitutional line item veto, which would allow the President to reduce pork barrel spending and save taxpayers billions of dollars. Congress has an opportunity this week in our debate on lobbying reform to take ethics reform seriously and take action to rid the federal budget of special interest projects. Giving the President the ability to target projects placed in the budget at the last minute at the request of a single lawmaker is a step in the right direction and a critical move toward needed transparency.

It is no secret that President Bush and I do not agree on many policy matters, but I fully support giving him this line item veto authority and I applaud the President's comments earlier today. I hope that Congress immediately takes up and passes this legislation, and I hope that President Bush will be able to use this new veto authority soon to get tough on wasteful spending.

Under the Republican-led House and Senate, pork-barrel spending has skyrocketed. Nearly $30 billion a year is being spent on projects that have never even been debated. For fiscal year 2005, appropriators added 13,997 projects into the 13 appropriations bills, an increase of 31 percent over last year's total of 10,656. In the last two years, the total number of projects has increased by 49.5 percent. The cost of these projects in fiscal year 2005 was $27.3 billion, or 19 percent more than last year's total of $22.9 billion. Billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on things like research to enhance the flavor of roasted peanuts and the infamous ``bridge to nowhere.'' We have the largest deficit in American history and Congress and the President must take action to get spending under control.

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 them 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. The Line Item Veto Act of 2006 is different. It will empower the President to suspend provisions until the Congress decides to approve or disapprove of that suspension 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.

I agree with President Bush's comments earlier today, it is indeed `time to bring this important tool of fiscal discipline to Washington, D.C.' I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the Line Item Veto Act and I look forward to President Bush using this authority to reign in pork-barrel spending.

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