Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to point out,
since the Wall Street Journal editorial has been referred to several
times, that the bill this editorial is about was abandoned last year.
I would suggest to those who wrote it that they ought to keep up
Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield 2 minutes to the
gentleman from Arizona [Mr. Coppersmith].
Mr. COPPERSMITH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from
South Carolina for yielding this time to me.
I urge all Members, both Democrats and Republicans, to support
If you truly want a line-item veto, this is the vote. This rule al-
lows us to debate and vote on the two major line-item veto propos-
als, the Castle-Solomon one-third plus one, as well as the Spratt-
Stenholm 50 percent plus one.
Do not be fooled by the rhetoric today. This vote will show who
really wants a line-item veto and who just wants a line-item veto
If you believe in the one-third plus one approach, as I do, this
rule is our chance. If this rule is rejected, we will have lost the
chance to enact the line-item veto.
The National Taxpayers Union is not fooled, and that is why the
NTU has made this vote on the rule a key vote, showing who is
a friend of the taxpayer and who is just not serious.
You have to pass the rule to decide whether to order coffee or
Finally, let me make a special plea to my freshmen Republican
colleagues by quoting some of their own words. On April 1 in the
well of this House, my colleague from Ramsey, MN, said:
"And it is the Democrats, not the Repubhcans, who are keeping
the President from getting the line-item veto he wants."
Well, please do not allow the Republican leadership to stop the
President from getting the line-item veto.
My distinguished friend from Shaker Heights, OH, said:
"Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed with my colleagues. I hope
that maybe they will come around and realize that it is not the
Democrat leadership that they belong to. They belong to the people
of the United States of America who elected them, believing that
maybe reform would happen with their help."
Well, the issue is simple. If you want the line-item veto, you
must vote "yes" on the rule.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman
from Florida [Mr. Goss], a member of the Committee on Rules.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished ranking mem-
ber, the gentleman from New York, for yielding me this time.
Today, some Democrat colleagues are going to tell the world that
they have changed their minds and they are now ready to pass a
line-item veto — something they have fought vehemently for years.
Wrong. This bill before us today is not a true line-item veto nor
does it even come close. What we have before us today is something
called expedited rescission, not enhanped, not expanded, but expe-
dited. It does not put the brakes on runaway spending — it does not
add much to accountability. It is speeded up status quo, dressed up
to pretend it is a line-item veto.
Imagine a 100-foot high building on fire with a man on the roof
crying for help. The Democrat bill would be a flyover above this
100-foot highrise with words coming out of the helicopter saying,
"Don't worry — we'll save you with our certified rescue package."
The problem is, the rescue package they offer is a 30-foot-long rope
and will leave that man hanging 70 feet off the ground while the
building bums around him. That 30-foot rope is a far cry from
what is needed to save our burning economy.
If the Democrat leadership were really serious about a true line-
item veto — like the legislative line-item veto offered by Mr. Castle
and Mr. Solomon — they would have attached it to the debt limit
extension that was rammed through this House in the wee hours
just before the Easter recess, as you will recall. That debt limit bill
has already become law — and with it the line-item veto could have
already been law, too. But as they have been doing a lot lately, the
Democrat leadership in the Rules Committee said "no," not just to
the minority, but to their own Democrat freshmen as well, who saw
the debt limit bill as the surest way to ensure real budget process
reform, and they refused their amendment then. But that is past
Here we are today with yet another restrictive rule — in fact the
10th out of 10 so far this Congress — debating the merits of that 30-
foot rope. As a former mayor and county chairman responsible for
balancing budgets I can say to this bill: "I know the line-item veto;
I've worked with a line-item veto — and you're no line-item veto!"
Under this rule we have one amendment offered by the freshmen
Republicans and Mr. Solomon to add some teeth to this measure
and I urge my colleagues to support it. But what happened to the
proposal by the Democrat freshmen? And the proposals to make
budget reform permanent instead of a 2-year experiment? And the
one offered by our minority leader designed to stop special interest
tax breaks? All these were effectively shut out by the Democrat
majority on the Rules Committee — the same majority that will
have the power under this bill to simply waive the rules and make
its provisions useless, as has happened before.
If we go through the motions here today and adopt this expedited
rescission bill, I expect the status quo Democrat majority to declare
the issue of the line-item veto resolved. In fact, I read in this
week's CQ that the primary reason this issue is being brought up
at all is because the Democrats want to get it off the table and put
it under the rug, it seems. But the debt will continue to go up and
the waste will continue — and we may have lost our chance to turn
Please, do not be fooled. This is not line-item veto — this is not
son of line-item veto — this is not even a distant cousin of line-item
veto. Do not accept this stand-in for reform. Stand up and fight for
the real thing. Vote "no" on this rule.
Mr. DERRICK. Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield
3 minutes to the gentleman from New Mexico [Mr. Richardson].
Mr. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the
rule. Why is this important? First, Mr. Speaker, the President of
the United States should be given the ability to cut out pork and
what is questionable in the budget. Number 2, the American people
want the line item veto. We have tried Gramm-Rudman, we have
tried the constitutional amendments to balance the budget, we
have tried budget summits, and nothing has worked.
Mr. Speaker, the President has for the first time the first serious
budget reduction package before us. He wants a line-item veto. He
is serious about it.
Constitutionally, Mr. Speaker, this, in my judgment, is sound.
The legislative branch is protected. It is a 2-year experiment.
Second, the House, the Senate, the Congress, can override the re-
scission package. The ability for the Congress to promote a new re-
scission package is there.
Mr. Speaker, the most important reason why we should support
this rule, and a lot of Members have different views on line item
veto because of their concern for the legislative branch losing some
of its power, is that we allow this debate to take place. If this rule
is defeated, we cannot, and I repeat, we cannot, vote on one of the
President's main initiatives as a President.
I served as the chair of the drafting committee of the platform.
President Clinton as a candidate, as a Governor, has supported the
line-item veto, and we are ready to look at it for 2 years. Maybe
in 2 years, constitutionally, structurally, there will be questions.
We can revisit it again.
But I say for the credibility of this body, of the Government, of
the executive legislative relationship. Let's give the President this
authority to cut out questionable spending. Most States have this
authority. Most Governors do.
Mr. Speaker, I think this is going to result in fiscal discipline.
It is going to result in a better relationship between the two
branches, and I think we owe it to the fact that the American peo-
ple want change, and they want us to vote for different approaches
to the deficit. The President proposed this in his package, an essen-
tial element of his package is this modified line-item veto, and I
urge support of the rule.
As a nation, we face many difficult problems and, due to the Fed-
eral deficit, we are unable to respond as we should. Whether the
issue is health care, education or job creation, we are hamstrung
and simply lack the resources to act in a forceful and responsible
manner. Stated plainly, we must cut the deficit in order to function
as an effective Government.
We must make tough choices in order to cut spending and put
our economic house in order. Unfortunately, we have proven, year
in and year out, that we lack the discipline to make those choices
and, therefore, I believe that we need to create structures that will
give us the confidence and ability to cut when necessary. For that
reason I support H.R. 1578, the Expedited Rescissions Act and, in
the past, supported the Gramm-Rudman Deficit Reduction Act and
the 1990 budget agreement.
The enhanced rescissions Act is simple, it gives the President a
greater ability to pinpoint cuts he wants to make. The bill is craft-
ed carefully and fully protects the jurisdiction of the legislative
branch by providing for a simple majority override of the Presi-
dent's cuts. It then enables the Congress to draft an alternative re-
scission package. This plan is responsible and, at the same time,
brings us much closer to sound fiscal management.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly support this bill but realize that others
may not. Nonetheless, I strongly ask for their support on the rule.
Poll after poll show that the American people want tougher fiscsd
controls and doubt that we have the ability to make the difficult
economic choices. President Clinton has asked for enhanced rescis-
sion and I think that we must put the issue to a vote. I will vote
for H.R. 1578 but understand that others will vote against it. What
we must do today is give it a fair hearing. Only by passing the rule
and debating the bill on the floor can that happen.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the rule. I 5deld
back the balance of my time and thank my friend from South Caro-
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman
from Alabama [Mr. Everett], a very distinguished freshman Mem-
ber from Midland City.
Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New
York [Mr. SOLOMON], my friend, for yielding this time to me. He
represents New York by way of Echo, AL.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today again in opposition to this rule and
again to call on Republican and Democratic freshmen to put aside
partisanship and vote against this rule.
This is not a line-item veto. It is, as the Wall Street Journal com-
mented in today's editorial, a line-item voodoo.
Many Members, new and old alike, promised the American peo-
ple they would give the President a line-item veto. Candidate Bill
Clinton campaigned for the line-item veto. Yet, surprise, after the
election, Mr. Speaker, nobody seems really interested in a true
Mr. Speaker, what is being offered instead is a poor substitute
that is designed to fool the public and do nothing to curb the appe-
tite of this Congress from spending. As the Wall Street Journal
says, it is to a line-item veto what chicory flavored water is to Co-
lombian coffee. It might look the same, but one taste tells the tale.
What the President would have to do is sign an entire spending
package and attach a list of spending items he agreed with and
then ask the Congress to eliminate them. Where is the line-item
veto? He will not even be allowed to reduce an existing program
below the previous budget. Where is the line-item veto? Mr. Speak-
er, where is the beef?
The people in my district elected as their Representative some-
one who had never been involved in politics. They did that because
they lost faith, unfortunately, in the Congress. They did that be-
cause they were angry at politicians telling them one thing and
doing something else.
This rule represents that kind of thinking, my colleagues, and I
would add that the American people will not be fooled by it.
Vote this rule down, and let us bring a true line-item veto to the
I will tell my colleagues what time it is, Mr. Speaker. It is time
to tell the American people the truth.
Mr. DERRICK. Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield
1 minute to the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Traficant].
M[r. TRAFICANT. Mr. Speaker, this is not a vote today on a line-
item veto. This is a vote today to expand the power of the Presi-
The Constitution is clear. Congress spends. Congress cuts. The
problems in America will not be solved by giving the President a
red felt tip pen.
My colleagues. Congress is afraid of its shadow. Congress will
not cut. Congress is afraid, and, if we take the power and give it
to the President, where does that power come from, if not from the
Arid let me say this: One man's trash is another man's treasure.
I was not for expanding the power of the Presidency under a Re-
publican administration, and I am not going to be a hypocrite. I am
not for taking power from the people, investing it in the White
House in a Democrat administration.
Mr. Speaker, the President is not going to solve our budget di-
lemma. It should be Congress, and I do not want to see Congress
wimp out and sell the Constitution out to do it.
I appreciate having been yielded this time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distin-
guished gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton].
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about two
things. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about closed rules.
The American people do not understand how this place works, so
it is time for us to explain that.
I say to my colleagues, "When you have a closed rule, you cannot
debate the issue fully, and the Democrat Rules Committee has con-
tinually this session of Congress sent closed rules to the floor."
We are not going to be able to vote today on a line item veto be-
cause of the way this rule is structured. We are going to do it on
their terms. They are trying to ram through ever5^hing President
Clinton wants without full debate and disclosure.
Mr. Speaker, of all the rules we have had on the House floor,
none have been open. In the past, 82 percent of the rules have been
open. During this session, zippo, none, and that is why we have
Lady Liberty gagged and hope the American people understand
In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, we have had 10 rules this ses-
sion, and, out of the 10 rules, all have been closed, 100 percent,
and that means that all the people that we represent, 600,000 peo-
ple apiece, do not have a voice in this Congress because the Com-
mittee on Rules continues to gag them and will not allow them to
Finally, Mr. Speaker, the Speaker of this body, the gentleman
from Washington [Mr. Foley], said he expects open rules within a
matter of a very few days on major legislation. If a line-item veto
is not major legislation, then what is it? And he said this on Mon-
day, and they are sending a closed rule down here.
The fact of the matter is the people are not getting the straight
story from the Democrat Party. They want to ram through $402
billion in new taxes, another $145 or $150 billion for Hillary
Rodham Clinton's health care program, , and they are calling that
democracy. Baloney. It is just plain baloney.
What we want is open rules. We want a straight up or down vote
on a real line-item veto, not this enhanced rescission.
My colleagues know what it is. It is baloney, and the American
people ought to know it is baloney. We want a vote on a straight
line-item veto, and I hope the Committee on Rules one day will be
Mr. DERRICK. Mr. Speaker, for the purposes of debate only, I
yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Inslee].
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in favor of this rule and urge
my colleagues to support it. I do this for two reasons. I have a per-
spective that is perhaps unique in this debate. I am one of the
Democratic freshmen who supported an amendment that will not
be considered under this rule. But for two reasons, I believe it is
imperative that we pass this rule.
The first is that it should be very clear that killing this rule kills
line-item veto in any shape or form in this year. You can shape it,
you can shade it, you can color it, but a "no" vote is a vote to kill
any shape of the line-item veto this year.
Those who believe that it is more important for the future of this
country to make some political point about rules than to adopt a
tool that can cut our deficit do not share my belief that the fun-
damental and No. 1 problem in our country is that deficit.
This bill will not give the Executive untoward power. It will sim-
ply allow the President to shine a spotlight on a spending proposal.
Mr. Speaker, I further believe in one principle that is engraved
in this rostrum, and that principle is union. There are those who
do not share my belief in the wisdom of this bill at all. To them
I say that I urge them to vote in favor of this rule for principles
of union. We must at times subjugate our personal beliefs and our
personal wishes to union.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the Members to vote in favor of this rule.
Mr. DERRICK. Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield
3 minutes to the gentleman from Oklahoma [Mr. Synar].
Mr. SYNAR. Mr. Speaker, the proposition before us today is very
simple. Do we want to act like Members of Congress and continue
to exercise the constitutional authority granted to us by our Found-
ing Fathers, or do we want to turn our backs on responsibility and
support an ill-conceived public relations gimmick. Why do I say
this? H.R. 1578 is another in a long line of budget gimmicks that
won't work, is not needed, is off questionable constitutional value,
is inherently flawed, and is just plain irresponsible.
H.R. 1578 will not work. The bill is designed to decrease spend-
ing by making Congress vote up or down on the individual pro-
grams in appropriations bills which the President has singled out
for rescission. Many fear that this will actually increase deficit
spending because it gives Congress an incentive to present larger
budgets to the White House in order to guard against Presidential
In addition the GAO has flatly stated that "rescissions cannot be
expected to be a major tool for reducing the deficit." The GAO rea-
sons that rescissions have little deficit cutting impact because they
are limited to the discretionary portion of the budget and do not
touch the 61 percent of the budget comprised of mandatory spend-
ing — interest on the national debt, entitlements — including escalat-
ing health expenditures. Since 1974 the total enacted rescissions —
$69.2 billion — comprise just 3 percent of the cumulative deficits in-
curred during that period.
H.R. 1578 is a remedy in search of a problem. It's not needed be-
cause the current rescission process works to reduce deficit spend-
ing. From 1974 to the present, Presidents have proposed $69.2 bil-
lion in rescissions and Congress has responded by approving $21.3
billion of the requested rescissions and initiating $65.1 billion of its
own cuts for a total of $86.5 billion in rescissions. In short, since
1974 Congress has enacted almost $20 billion more in rescissions
than Presidents have requested.
H.R. 1578 is also not needed because there already exists within
the Impoundment Control Act a special discharge procedure which
permits 20 percent of the Members of either House to force a floor
vote on any Presidential rescission proposal. This provision should
be sufficient to ensure that any proposal having adequate congres-
sional support to suggest the possibility of approval could be
brought up for debate and a prompt up-or-down vote. If the pro-
posal cannot even get 20 percent support then it is unlikely that
it would ever be approved.
H.R. 1578 is of questionable constitutional value. First, the bill
amends the rules of the House by statute. This contravenes article
1, section 5 of the Constitution determines that congressional
Chamber determine the rules of its own proceedings. The current
proposal essentially amends the rules of both the House and the
Senate by statute; that is, the Senate and the President determine
the rules of the House and the House and the President determine
the rules of the Senate.
Second, the bill could violate the principle of bicameralism. The
bill makes no provisions for a conference should the House pass its
Appropriations Committee alternative, and the Senate pass either
the President's proposed rescissions or its own Appropriations Com-
mittee alternative or visa versa.
If the conference arises from current House and Senate rules —
which is not clear from the bill — then what happens if only one
Chamber passes the conference report or if neither Chamber choos-
es to act on the conference report? Technically both Chambers
would be in compliance with H.R. 1578 but there would be no final
action on any rescissions package. None of these questions are an-
swered by the bill and all of them could lead to bicameralism prob-
It skews the balance of power between the Congress and the
President. The proposal advances Presidential spending initiatives
at the expense of legislative spending initiatives. Under the bill's
procedures the President could rescind 100 percent of the appro-
priations for the Legal Services Corporation or 100 percent of the
appropriations for cruise missiles.
Granted the House and Senate could offer an alternative rescis-
sions package but the alternative must, first be within the same
appropriations act as the rescissions the President proposed and
second the amount of budget authority rescinded must be equal to,
or greater than the rescinded budget authority proposed by the
President. Also any proposed congressional alternative package
could be vetoed by the President in which case Congress would
have to overcome the veto by a two-thirds majority vote.
While either Chamber could restore the program targeted for re-
scission by a simple majority, the proposal forces Congress to adopt
or reject each of the President's proposed rescissions. This gives the
President enormous new power to set spending priorities. The
President gets an expedited procedure and the Congress gets no
more than an up-or-down vote.
The President would also have new power to set the legislative
agenda through the use of the rescissions process. The bill would
make all 13 yearly appropriations bills, plus any other appropria-
tions bills — for example, emergency supplemental bills — subject to
the rescission procedure. This would give the President up to 20
bills per year to exercise his rescissions powers and impact the leg-
The measure also gives the President added new leverage over
individual Members. The President could negotiate a rescission, or
a lack of a rescission, on an appropriation of particular concern to
a Member in exchange for the Member's action on other legislative
There is also a potential one House veto problem in the bill. As
drafted the House can vote down both the President's rescission
proposal and its own proposal and the Senate does not have to act.
Should the House approve the President's plan, or its own plan, the
Senate could exercise its own one Chamber veto by voting down
both the President's plan and its own plan. In short the rescinded
funds can be restored by the action of a single Chamber. This sin-
gle House action raises serious constitutional concerns.
H.R. 1578 as drafted contains a procedural flaw. The bill requires
that Congress act within 10 legislative days on the President's re-
scission request. Without action, no spending occurs. Should Con-
gress adjourn at the end of the current session, before the Presi-
dent sends his rescission message to Congress, no spending could
occur until Congress reconvened in January 1994 and acted on the
rescission legislation. In effect spending on the President's re-
scinded programs could be halted for 3 months due to this flaw in
H.R. 1578 is just plain irresponsible legislation. It is a gimmick