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Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentleman from Maryland.

There are two constitutional principles; there is one practical problem; and there is one democratic ideal. The most important constitutional principle is the power of the purse that must be retained by Congress. No one could give a better affirmation of why that's important than the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, except for the author of the Federalist Papers who the gentleman quoted.

Does this violate Congress' power of the purse? It reserves to the Congress the right to overturn by majority vote a recommendation by the executive that focuses on a single item of spending. Now, that may make life somewhat more difficult for those of us in Congress. It may make it particularly more difficult for the appropriators who have to deal with the incredible complexities of the large and multifaceted Federal budget; but in my view, it does not in any way violate the constitutional right that this House has over the power of the purse.

The second constitutional provision is the right of the executive to exercise a veto. And that is part of the checks and balances where the executive, a Republican or Democratic President, is given the power to say ``no.'' And then it imposes on us a burden of coming up with two-thirds votes in order to overcome it. A veto is not a practical tool. If the effect of that veto is a budget that keeps government going, that pays for our troops, that pays doctors who are providing Medicare services, that everything goes down with the ship, we're forcing the President to make what, in fact, is a radical decision to tear the whole thing down or to let some things go.

The practical problem we have is the budget. And again, Mr. Rogers is right: process reform is not going to get us from where we are to where we need to be. The problem is the problem. But this is one budget reform that can't help because what it does ultimately lead to is the application of that great democratic principle of transparency. What this means is that if you or I voted for a budget and the President highlighted a few items where the President said, Hey, what's going on, we would have to stand up here--you and I--and vote ``yes'' or ``no,'' and then be able to defend that vote to the people who elected us.

One of the challenges that I think we all know we have is that the confidence that people have in this institution is very low. So anything we can do--and transparency is the way to do something quite effective--we should do.

So this simply means that at the end of the day, these budget bills that are complicated, that are big, that few Members really have an opportunity to review, when the President reviews them and identifies a few things that he wants to send back, we have to say ``yes'' or "no'' in the full light of day.


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