effect on, the rising debts and deficits. Our job of fiscal responsibil-
ity requires tougher action.
To maintain that the line-item veto is an appropriate budgeting
tool and balances the powers between the executive branch and
Congress is a farce.
The President has in his power several means
of controlling the budgetary process which he seems reluctant to
use. Before we rush to institute a line-item veto under the pretense
of reducing the deficit, perhaps the administration should show its
commitment to deficit reduction by submitting balanced budgets to
The budget for fiscal year 1993, which President Bush submitted
to Congress in January, increases the national debt by $464 billion.
Surely, if he is serious about controlling the debt he would start
by balancing the budget before he submits it to Congress and the
Nation. He does not need a line-item veto to take out his own lines.
He can simply do what neither he nor President Reagan have ever
done, send Congress a balanced budget.
The claim has been made by Members of this body that the line-
item veto would save significant U.S. taxpayer dollars. I believe
that such statements are made only to appeal to the urgency of the
deficit issue without developing substantive policy measures.
Is the President really in a position to judge whether congres-
sional budget additions are worthy projects? The President can
stand in Congress and laugh at grants for peas, lentils, peach, and
catfish research, and he may be right, but maybe he is not, and
who is the best one to sense what is helpful for neglected regions
and small communities, the local Congressman, the Senator, or
some White House budget staffer who writes a memo to go into the
President's line-item veto message?
I will stick with the people's elected Representatives.
The truth is that most of those congressional items ought to be
cut. Who knows better than a Member of Congress how crucial
project funding may be to a local area? To allow the administra-
tion, with relatively little contact with small constituencies, to de-
cide what is important to communities across the United States
would be a gross misrepresentation of the American public.
Touting the line-item veto as a necessary tool for providing bal-
anced budgets is a great fallacy, and another in a series of budg-
etary gimmicks. The administration gdready has extreme influence
in the budgetary process. It submits its budget to the Congress
yearly, setting the national spending priorities and the stage for
policy discussions. If now the administration claims it needs the
line-item veto as a tool to balance the budget, I would like the ad-
ministration to answer why, if it feels balanced budgets are so im-
portant, does it not submit balanced budgets to Congress.
If the administration is so committed to fiscal restraint, then the
administration should prove its commitment by developing a budg-
et which implements spending reductions. If there is so much fat
in the budget that can be so easily dismissed, then the President
should come forward with those suggested cuts as part of his budg-
et submission. Instead, this President, who now so much wants the
line-item veto authority, submitted a budget that will add $464 bil-
lion to the national debt.
In addition, if the President is serious about controlling the
budget deficit by attacking the spending bills, he may use his gen-
eral veto authority and power of rescission. Although these two
methods require much more interaction with Congress and may
pose political dilemmas for the President, they are avenues that do
exist and could be useful if the President were to utilize them.
Presidents Carter and Reagan used rescission successfully. Two-
thirds of the dollar amount Carter rescinded was accepted by Con-
My last, but most important objection, with the line-item veto is
that it would radically upset the balance of power between the
President and Congress. I suppose very few hard-working people,
struggling with their own problems, care much about a power dis-
pute between Congress and the President. But the balance of
power, with not one branch too strong, was essential to the Found-
ing Fathers, and it is important today to the best interests of citi-
zens. It cannot be disputed that if the line-item veto were insti-
tuted, the President would use it to exert extraneous pressure on
Members of Congress, for example, to hold local waste treatment
projects hostage in order to get support of his veto of child care leg-
Senator Charles Mathias spoke eloquently to what this kind of
shift of power might mean. "For example," he said, "if President
Reagan does not like my position on the issue of school prayer, and
if he acquires the power to kill funds for the program that I have
long supported to save the Chesapeake Bay * * * then the Presi-
dent * * * has a hostage. He can hold the Chesapeake for the ran-
som of my support * * * for State-sponsored prayer in school or
any other subject that he might want my support on. * * * In my
opinion it would destroy the balance that exists between * * * the
executive and legislative branches."
Mr. President, we should take seriously these words from our
former colleague from Maryland. Most local citizens and all local
and State governments will be badly served by giving the President
line-item veto authority over local projects. The line-item veto
would muffle the public's voice and put a very long distance be-
tween the American people and Federal spending choices.
For the reasons I have discussed, I urge each one of my col-
leagues to carefully consider the line-item veto proposal before us.
We cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by political situations
and the current budgetary crisis into altering the balance of power
our Founding Fathers were so enlightened to incorporate in our
system of government. If we want to correct our Federal deficit we
should do so with the tools at hand; and the President should begin
by submitting honest and balanced budgets.
Mr. DURENBERGER. Mr. President, I rise to speak in opposi-
tion to this amendment which would grant to the President a line-
My record on this issue is clear and consistent. This is the ninth
time in my Senate career that I have had to vote on a line-item
veto. On each of the eight previous occasions, I have voted against
this idea. And I will do so again.
Mr. President, with the Federal budget deficit at $400 billion,
many of my colleagues think the line-item veto will provide the sil-
ver bullet that will restrain Federal spending. If I believed that, I
would long ago have supported this idea. But no one seriously be-
lieves that granting the President the authority to line-item veto
projects like the Lawrence Welk Museum will do anything to re-
solve our fiscal woes.
I would be far more inclined to consider supporting a line-item
veto, if we concurrently had in place a statutory or constitutional
requirement that Congress annually report a balanced budget. In
that case, if Congress sent the President a deficit financed budget,
it makes sense to give the President the authority to pick and
choose which congressional spending projects should be eliminated
to meet the legal requirement of a balanced budget.
But since we do not have the courage to adopt a balanced budget
law, I cannot support this proposal.
Mr. President, it is just not possible for this Senator, or any Sen-
ator, to add to the history and analysis of the constitutional deriva-
tion of the veto power presented by the distinguished Senator from
West Virginia [Mr. Byrd].
But I would like to take a moment to explain why I oppose the
idea of a line-item veto. In my view, it is simply a matter of shift-
ing the balance of power that existed in our triparte Government
for more than 200 years. A shift that will permanently change the
shape of our democracy.
Mr. President, in 20 of the last 24 years, the American public has
lived with divided Government, with Republicans controlling the
White House and Democrats the Congress. Both parties have had
to work together, to compromise, in order to adopt legislation we
believed to be in the best interests of our country. In some of those
bills, compromise was only achieved because components of such
bills contained measures important to a particular State or region
of the country.
But I would suggest to all of my colleagues, especially my col-
leagues on this side of the aisle, that if we adopt the line-item veto,
we will create a self-imposed legislative gridlock. And we will have
shifted an extraordinary amount of authority from the legislature,
from the Representatives and Senators of the 50 States, into the
Mr. President, the current occupant of the White House is a Re-
publican, and I would surely hope that President Bush will remain
in the White House through 1996. If that happens, and if the line-
item veto is adopted, I and my 42 Republican colleagues should be
comfortable in laiowing that it will be unlikely that our legislative
proposals will be line-item vetoed.
But one day, it is possible a Democrat will occupy the White
House. And if that unlikely event occurs, I would suggest that all
of my Republican colleagues will face the threat that their State's
interests may be targeted for vetoes. The line-item veto will allow
all future Presidents to pick and choose items to veto not on merit,
but solely on the basis of political partisanship. A Democratic
President might find it politically useful to my 1994 Democratic op-
ponent to line-item veto a nursing home project critical to my Min-
Mr. President, I suggested earlier that this institution is founded
on legislative compromise. There is always give and take in
crafting legislation. That has been our tradition for more than 200
years. Yet why should any Senator, especially a Senator in the
party that does not control the White House, compromise on any-
thing if he knows that the President can pick and choose to veto
those parts of a bill that the Senator supports.
Instead of compromise, I can assure you that we will see endless
filibusters. Senators will block legislation until they receive guar-
anteed assurances from the White House that the items important
to their States will not be line-item vetoed. Is that what our col-
leagues want? More filibusters, more cloture petitions, more end-
less debate. That is exactly what will result if we adopt this pro-
Mr, President, I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment
and to get on with the serious business of governing a nation that
is looking with greater skepticism at how we conduct the people's
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, the chairman of the Appropria-
tions Committee has virtually exhausted the arguments that can
be made against this proposal. I support his position absolutely,
and have just one brief suggestion to make.
I suggest that the advocates of this proposal take better advan-
tage of the existing rules and procedures of the Senate to advance
their cause. There is still unlimited debate in the Senate. Senators
can exercise their rights under the rules to take all the time they
want to examine bills and reports, raise objections, offer amend-
ments, and round up votes. I am confident that the proponents of
this proposition, and their capable staffs, are fully able to identify
provisions of appropriations bills and reports that they find objec-
tionable, and craft amendments to resolve those objections. Let
them offer those amendments, and let us vote.
In those rare occasions when the Senate is faced with a con-
ference report on an appropriations measure with no amendments
remaining in disagreement to which further amendments might be
adopted, thus forcing the Senate to an up or down vote on the en-
tire measure, let me suggest this to the proponents. Presumably,
they speak on behalf of the President. I should say as an aside that
the principal sponsors of this proposal presume that the President
will always be a Republican. But in any event, the proponents put
great faith in the executive branch. Let the proponents encourage
the President, then, to come forward with rescission proposals pur-
suant to title X of the Budget Act. I understand the President will
do just that in the next day or so in regard to certain matters fund-
ed in fiscal year 1992 defense appropriations bill. That rescission
message will be referred to the Appropriations Committee. If I read
the Budget Act correctly, after 25 days the measure can be dis-
charged on the petition of 20 Senators. Then the rescissions can be
debated and voted on, and if the measure passes, the funds are re-
So there is a mechanism the proponents of this matter can pur-
sue to achieve their purpose. Of course, it means they must take
the responsibility themselves, and not rely on the President to take
it on for them, but I have every confidence that they will not shirk
from that responsibility.
Mr. WOFFORD. Mr. President, the Federal budget deficit is a se-
rious problem. It is reducing our national savings and eroding our
Nation's ability to compete internationally. Unless we overcome
that deficit our children and grandchildren will not enjoy the better
world we hope to leave.
But the line-item veto would not be a solution. A Federal line-
item veto would probably have little impact as a deficit reduction
measure because much of the Federal budget, particularly entitle-
ments, interest payments and taxes, would not be subject to it. In
1993, only 35 percent of Federal spending will be discretionary
spending and, therefore, subject to a Presidential line-item veto.
And by excluding revenues, which the President estimates to be
over $1.1 trilHon in 1993, the line-item veto could merely result in
more tax loopholes as special interests seek to make up for lost
Federal spending. Honest, serious deficit reduction will require a
comprehensive approach to all aspects of the budget — not just dis-
For over 10 years, the Bush and Reagan administrations have
claimed the need for the line-item veto to bring the deficit under
control. But this is just smoke and mirrors. They seek to place the
blame solely on the Congress — when the fact is that this adminis-
tration has not once proposed a balanced budget or proposed a real-
istic solution to the budget deficit.
The net effect of a line-item veto would not necessarily be budget
savings. Rather, it would provide a preference for executive spend-
ing priorities over legislative priorities. And as the current admin-
istration has shown — ^those priorities are often wrong. The Presi-
dent's 1993 budget proposal is full of examples of program cuts
that would hurt the people of Pennsylvania and all States. He
would for example eliminate trade adjustment assistance for work-
ers dislocated from jobs because of foreign competition and mass
transit assistance for cities with populations over 500,000. He pro-
posed major cuts in the HOME Program, which creates new afford-
able housing opportunities, and the low-income housing weather-
ization program, which helps people afford to stay in their homes.
I do not agree with all congressional spending decisions. Some
blame for our deficit of course lies in this body. However, the line-
item veto proposal ignores the President's participation in creating
the increased Federal deficits. All the line-item veto would do is
transfer power from the legislative branch of Grovemment to the
executive branch without any guarantee of a more effective Grovem-
ment or reduced budget deficits.
Finally, the State experience with line-item vetoes has not al-
ways been positive. The line item veto is the power that a majority
of State Grovemors have to reduce or eliminate individual provi-
sions in bills offered by their State legislatures. The House Budget
Committee concluded in 1984 that the power of the line-item veto
on the States has given rise to significant political strife and, at
times, threatened the shutdown of Government services.
Both the Congress and the President need to be involved in seri-
ous budget reduction. I cannot support a proposal, such as the line-
item veto, that would reduce the accountability of Members of Con-
gress to solve the budget deficit, shift the constitutionally estab-
lished separation of powers sharply in favor of the President, and
not necessarily get us any budget savings.
Therefore, I urge my colleagues to vote against the pending
Mr. HOLLINGS. Mr. President, I rise today in support of efforts
to grant the President line-item veto power. It is an excellent dis-
cipline to control wastefiil and unnecessary appropriations and
thereby reduce the Federal deficit. My amendment, a statutory,
separate enrollment line-item veto is identical to a measure pre-
viously considered by the 99th Congress as well as legislation re-
ported favorably by a bipartisan vote out of the Senate Budget
Committee on July 25, 1990, and I prefer this approach. However,
it's time to stop splitting hairs and get this valuable tool to the
Currently, 43 States have, in one form or another, a line-item
veto allowing the Chief Executive to limit legislative spending. As
a former Governor who inherited a budget deficit in a poor State,
I can testify that a line-item veto is invaluable in imposing fiscal
The fiscal problems of our Nation are well-known. We face an-
nual deficits now approaching $500 billion and a total debt of $3.8
trillion. For years now, we have been toying with freezes, asset
sales and sham summits, but the deficit and debt continue to grow.
Mr. President, the taxpayer, as well as the Congress, have grown
weary of the smoke and mirrors and are past ready for a serious
deficit reduction package. If ever there was a problem that needed
to be attacked from every possible angle, it is this deficit. The
President said in his State of the Union Address that he was will-
ing to take the heat and make tough decisions with a line-item
veto. Let's hold him to the commitment and make the line-item
veto part of a deficit reduction measure.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I am a supporter of the line-item
veto, one which is truly structured like a veto. I voted with Senator
Sasser on the point of order made against the proposal by Sen-
ators Coats and McCain because their approach is not a line-item
veto, but a different creature called an enhanced recission. The dif-
ferences between the two approaches are important.
As I noted earlier, I shared the stated beliefs of the Attorney
General that the President does not have the authority now to veto
individual items in bills. Suggestions from some quarters that the
President should simply assert this authority and spark a court
battle is political mischief of the worst type.
So there should be agreement that legislative action is needed for
the President to gain the authority to eliminate specific items in
appropriations bills. A variety of proposals have been made in this
area, ranging from a constitutional amendment to the enhanced
recission that was recently before the Senate.
A constitutional amendment is perhaps the most difficult ap-
proach to establish this authority and one that should be looked to
only as a last resort. I believe we should first look to a statutory
approach, which would be faster and, if properly structured, do no
damage to the constitutional relationship between Congress and
The amendment we voted on was a statutory approach, but
flawed because it granted the President too much authority and
veered away from a true veto response to congressional action. The
McCain amendment would have allowed the President to reduce,
not just eliminate specific items. With this authority, the President
would be allowed to rewrite appropriations bills, a power that
would dramatically alter our traditional system of checks and bal-
I have supported a 2-year trial of allowing the President to take
specific items in an appropriations bill and veto them. Congress
would be able to vote to override that veto. It is a much simpler
approach that the enhanced recission in the McCain-Coats amend-
ment. And if it proves to be a failure, as some fear, the authority
could be allowed to lapse.
A statutory line-item veto will help restore responsibility to the
Federal budget process. A line-item veto will help increase account-
ability on the part of the Congress and the President. Estimates of
the savings that could result from a line-item veto differ, but they
could add up to billions of dollars. It is no cure-all for deficits and
debt, but it is a step in the right direction and one that I believe
must be taken.
With deficits racing toward $400 billion annually, the need for
additional spending controls cannot be denied. But under the claim
of fiscal responsibility, I cannot support an approach that would
make such a dramatic shift in authority to the executive branch.
I hope in the future we can develop a workable line-item veto.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the
line-item veto. As a cosponsor, I believe that the Coats-McCain
amendment will help Congress restore some fiscal responsibility to
the budget process that is presently lacking. This amendment will
force the Congress to justify all of its spending requests and, I truly
believe will eliminate frivolous and wasteful spending by the Con-
This legislation will not compromise the budget process, it will
enhance it. The line-item veto enables the President, 20 days after
the enactment of an appropriations bill, to identify wasteful and
unnecessary spending items and to notify Congress of his intention
to eliminate such items. The real punch of this proposal is to force
this body to justify its spending priorities by voting to overturn the
Mr. President, it is high time that Congress end its spending
spree. The American people can no longer aiford to pay for our fis-
Mr. President, it strikes me as odd that Congress has only a lim-
ited supply of tax dollars to draw from, yet Members insert an un-
limited number of wasteful spending items. The General Account-
ing Office has estimated that some $70 billion in unnecessary pork
funding has been tucked away in appropriation bills between fiscal
years 1984 and 1989. We have spent ourselves into a tremendous
deficit, all in the name of good public policy. Mr. President, this
level of deficit spending is not good public policy.
This legislation is long overdue. I urge my colleagues to support
this common sense legislation.
Mr. BYRD addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I thank the Chair. How much time do
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia has
10 minutes 7 seconds.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I have just been asked by Mr. Bump-
ers for 3 minutes. I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished Senator
iVom AT*Kfm spis
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas is rec-
ognized for 3 minutes.
Mr. BUMPERS. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Sen-
Mr. President, the line-item veto is very popular across the coun-
try. If you vote against the line-item veto, you do so at some politi-
cad risk; we all know that. Yet I am not persuaded, and I will never
be persuaded. On the contrary, I am convinced we would not be
here today debating this issue at all if Jimmy Carter were Presi-
dent; if Bill Clinton were President, or if Fritz Mondale were Presi-
dent we would not be here debating the line-item veto.
I remember when President Reagan promised the people of this
country he was going to balance the budget. All of a sudden, we
have $100 billion, $200 billion, $250 biUion deficits; all of a sudden,
he said, "If I only had the line-item veto." Then next, he said, "I
cannot spend a dime. The Congress did not appropriate it."
I tell you, we could not have spent a dime in this country that
did not have Ronald Reagan's, or CJeorge Bush's signature, on it ei-
ther. The President has the veto. There is 4 trillion dollars' worth
of indebtedness in this country, and Congress is culpable to some
extent, but I promise Ronald Reagan and Greorge Bush signed for
every dime of it; their names are on every penny of it.
So, Mr. President, I am not persuaded at all on the constitu-
tionality of the line-item veto. On the contrary, I think it is uncon-