Make the Presidency Work

The No Labels Action Plan to Change the Rules and Fix What's Broken


4 A Line Item Veto With A Twist

The Problem

What if you wanted to buy a house, but the owner would only sell it if you bought a boat, too? Or you wanted a car, but couldn’t get it without also buying a lifetime supply of laundry detergent? That’s basically the situation presidents find themselves in whenever spending legislation crosses their desk.

There is no requirement that all parts of a spending bill relate to the same issue, which often allows senators and members of Congress to tack on provisions that have nothing to do with the substance of a bill. The president then has to choose, veto pen in hand, whether to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or accept some really unappealing bathwater.

The result is lots of irrelevant provisions that hijack the legislative process, reduce the chance that important bills will pass, and often lock our government into unwanted and unnecessary spending.

The No Labels Solution

Cut it out—literally. Let’s give presidents expedited rescission authority, which would give them similar power to the line-item veto authority that enables 44 state governors to remove provisions from spending legislation.

A straight line-item veto—which would allow the president to eliminate specific spending provisions passed by Congress— is unconstitutional. But rescission—in which the president has to send each elimination request back to Congress for an expedited, up or down vote—is legal. Expanded presidential rescission authority already has broad bipartisan support in Congress from members who want more transparency and accountability in the legislative process. No Labels wants the same thing.


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