say, "Put some laws and legislation on the books. Then if it doesn't
work, take it off."
This legislation allows us to experiment for a couple of years.
Additionally, Mr. Chairman, it is a compromise. There are some
people in this body who do not want to do anything at any time
and there are other people who say it is not enough, so let us not
This is probably a fair compromise between the two.
Finally, as Members on both sides have been quoting our Presi-
dent, the President has said, "I believe this bill would increase the
accountability of both the executive and legislative branches for re-
ducing wasteful spending."
Mr. SPRATT. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman
from Virginia [Mr. Payne].
Mr. PAYNE of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support
of H.R. 1578, the modified line-item veto, as introduced by my col-
leagues, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Stenholm] and the gen-
tleman from South Carolina [Mr. Spratt].
The President's 5-year plan to reduce the deficit and the bill be-
fore us today respond to the urgent call from our constituents to
reduce the deficit and its negative impact on economic growth and
The bill now under consideration has been carefully crafted to
maintain the balance of power between the executive and the legis-
lative branches as provided in the Constitution.
The modified line veto will not by itself eliminate the deficit. But
it will give the President and the Congress a powerful tool to elimi-
nate unnecessary spending.
It will bring more accountability and responsibility to the budget
And it will send another clear message to those we represent
that we are serious about reducing the deficit.
I congratulate Congressman Stenholm and Congressman
Spratt, as well as our former colleague, Governor Tom Carper of
Delaware, for their work on this important legislation, and I urge
my colleagues to support H.R. 1578.
Mr. CLINGER. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes
to the gentleman from California [Mr. Horn], a new member of the
Committee on Government Operations who has already made
many valuable contributions to the work of the committee.
Mr. HORN. Mr. Chairman, I believe in Presidential responsibil-
ity and Presidential accountability. If Congress cannot balance the
budget, the $300 to $400 billion annual deficit that we are now
running, then the President needs the authority to bring the budg-
et back into balance.
I have long favored a statutory line-item veto.
I would like to include in this part of my remarks a telegram I
sent to President Reagan on February 18, 1981, on that point:
This mailgram is a confirmation copy of the following message:
Long Beach, CA,
February 18, 1981.
President Ronald Reagan,
White House, Washington, DC: ,
With your power to persuade the people I suggest that in cutting
Government expenditures you ask the people to help you secure
congressional enactment of authority to cut appropriations up to 10
percent in all budgets but Social Security and the others which you
have specified would not be cut. Such a precise statement of the
issue would prevent you from being nibbled away by special inter-
ests in the congressional process. If we have a crisis we need to act
as if we have one and involve the public in helping you solve it.
It could be that momentum has already been lost. If you lose on
a vote up or down in securing such authority you can always go
the regular congressional process.
President, California State University,
I believe the President must have the authority to make the ap-
propriate cuts, except in areas such as Social Security and com-
parable retirement programs. That was the authority I wrote into
H.R. 1099, a freeze proposal on which this House has not been able
While H.R. 1578 makes some progress, its fundamental flaw is
that the House and the Senate can override the President's action
by a simple majority.
The fact is that we saw earlier this evening what can be done
with a majority in this body and how leaders can work to convert
a few votes so that what was a majority in one direction became
a majority in another direction.
The Founding Fathers, however, took that responsibility and de-
cision of the President much more seriously. They required that if
Congress was to override the President, the one official elected by
the Nation as a whole, then it must do it by a two-thirds vote of
those present and voting.
Legislation approved by this House and legislation in the other
body must face up to the fact that this Nation is fiscally bleeding
to death, and since there is a majority in this House to act to pro-
vide a strong line-item veto, I would ask the majority, why does it
not act? It has acted through its majority on every bill we have
seen this year.
The standard should be the two-thirds vote to override a decision
of the President of the United States. Then you would have a credi-
ble line-item veto. We do not have one now.
H.R. 1578 does not do the job. I urge my colleagues to vote
against the bill before us.
Mr. DERRICK. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gen-
tleman from Arizona [Mr. Coppersmith].
Mr. COPPERSMITH. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from
South Carolina for yielding this time to me.
I congratulate those Members who had the courage to defy their
caucus and party leadership, and instead vote their conscience to
allow the House to consider the line-item veto.
Now at long last we in this House can legislate and determine
what kind of line-item veto to deploy.
I hope in this debate and the vote to follow that we focus on
achieving the best possible form of a line-item veto. I personally
will support the substitute of the gentleman from Delaware [Mr.
Castle] and the Michel amendment. I am delighted that the two
brave Republican freshmen have given me that opportunity at long
last to do so. However, should either proposal fail, I still urge all
supporters of the line-item veto to vote for the Spratt-Stenholm
bill, even if their preferred version does not pass. A weaker version
of the current Stenholm-Spratt bill passed this House by an over-
whelming margin with strong bipartisan support. Suddenly a bet-
ter bill is called worse than nothing by the other side.
Let us try to legislate the best possible line-item veto. Let us do
the best we can and vote yes on formal passage, even if the Castle-
Solomon substitute should fail. I realize this may be tough for
Members who have rigged their voting cards only to vote no, but
I urge my colleagues to vote yes three times tomorrow.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Chairman, I am happy to yield 2 minutes to
the gentleman from Ramsey, Minnesota [Mr. Grams], a hard-work-
ing new member of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban
Affairs and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Mr. GRAMS. Mr. Chairman, a well known TV commercial
claims: "There Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing."
Well, they are right.
In voting for the Castle/Solomon substitute, the American people
would get what they want: a real line-item veto.
The Stenholm/Spratt bill is not a true line-item veto â€” it is a
sham. As the Wall Street Journal put it: if Congress passes Sten-
holm/Spratt, it is not really doing it's job, it is faking it.
Forty-three of our Nation's Governors have a line-item veto, it is
done to help them balance their budgets, unlike the Federal Gov-
ernment which lacks a line-item veto and has failed for decades to
balance its budget.
Ten former Governors serve in this body, and all of them support
the line-item veto.
President Clinton â€” a Democrat â€” supports the line-item veto, and
as a former Grovernor, knows first hand how to use it. I am sure
he wants a real line-item veto, not the fake version represented by
As for the American people, polls show they overwhelmingly sup-
port the line-item veto and recognize it is an essential tool for get-
ting rid of pork and wasteful spending.
Mr. Chairman, the fiscal crisis facing our Nation is too serious
to play political games as we are doing today with the Stenholm/
Thanks to Congress' appetite for spending, today every child in
America is born owning $16,000 as their part of the national debt.
And right now, 20 cents of every tax dollar goes just to pay the in-
terest on the national debt.
Mr. Chairman, the American people voted last year for change,
and for Congress to get serious about reducing the deficit.
The line-item veto works, it is needed, and it is wanted by the
Let us not fake it, let us do the right thing and the real thing.
I urge my colleagues to support the Castle/Solomon amendment,
and give the American people a real line-item veto.
Mr. SPRATT. Mr. Chairman, I 3deld 6 minutes to the gentleman
from Texas [Mr. Stenholm] who is one of the authors and origina-
tors of this bill.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to encourage my
colleagues to support H.R. 1578, modified line-item veto legislation.
This legislation, also called the Spratt-Stenholm bill, builds on a
long history of bipartisan support for expedited rescission legisla-
Since there has been some misinformation circulating about the
motives behind this bill, taking a brief look at that bipartisan his-
tory is in order. The first expedited rescission bill introduced in
Congress was authored by Dan Quayle in 1985. In 1987, the gen-
tleman from Texas [Mr. Armey] attempted to offer an amendment
to the Omnibus Continuing Resolution that would grant the Presi-
dent enhanced rescission authority subject to majority override. In
1989, the gentleman from Texas joined with Representative TiM
Johnson to introduce the Armey-Johnson Current Level Rescission
Act of 1989. Under the Armey-Johnson bill the President could re-
duce existing programs only to their prior year's level and could re-
duce new programs only by 10 percent. The money would be spent
if Congress failed to vote on the President's package. I do not un-
derstand how Mr. Armey can claim that his bill was the "Real
McCoy" and criticize H.R. 1578 when his bill was considerably
weaker than the bill before us today.
In the fall of 1989, a bipartisan group of Members came together
to develop a consensus bill with broader ideological appeal. That
group included ToM Carper, Dick Armey, Tim Johnson, Lynn
Martin, Bill Frenzel, Dan Glickman, and several other Mem-
bers who were interested in a constructive approach with improved
odds for enactment. In the 102d Congress, ToM Carper reintro-
duced this proposal as H.R. 2164. He worked with JERRY SOLOMON,
Harris Fawell, and others in refining this bill before it was
passed late last year with overwhelming bipartisan support, includ-
ing nearly unanimous support from Republicans. I am submitting
for the record information that describes in detail the bipartisan
support that this legislation has enjoyed in the past.
Turning now to more recent history, 2 months ago President
Clinton outlined an ambitious plan to confront our massive Federal
debt. The day after his State of the Union address, I introduced
legislation on behalf of 80 of my colleagues to provide him with one
of the tools he asked for to help in the effort to reduce the deficit â€”
modified line-item veto authority.
The bill that we are discussing today, H.R. 1578, maintains the
basic principle embodied in every expedited rescission bill in the
past â€” that Congress must vote on Presidential rescission messages.
Without weakening this basic principle in any way, we have made
constructive changes to make the bill a more workable and effec-
tive tool in eliminating low-priority spending. The changes in the
bill address concerns of Members on both sides of the aisle, includ-
ing concerns raised by Mr. SOLOMON and Mr. Castle, as well as
suggestions by the chairman and other members of the Govern-
ment Operations Committee. I believe that any objective observer
would conclude that these refinements have strengthened and im-
proved the bill.
The legislation would allow the President to send down a rescis-
sion package within 3 days of signing an appropriations bill. Con-
gress would be required to vote up or down on the package under
an expedited procedure. The rescissions will take effect if a major-
ity of Congress approves the rescission package. The funds for any
proposed rescission would not be released for obligation until the
rescission bill is defeated in either House. The bill would provide
this new authority for a 2-year test period so that we can see how
it works in practice and then revisit the issue with any improve-
ments that might be helpful.
It is true that under the authority provided in the Constitution
for each House to set its own rules, the House could adopt a rule
that alters or waives requirements for internal congressional proce-
dures, including those established by H.R. 1578. However, Con-
gress could not thwart a Presidential rescission message by avoid-
ing a vote because the President could continue to impound the
funds included in a rescission message until Congress votes on his
Under current law, the President can and does impound funds
included in Presidential rescission messages to prevent funds from
being spent on projects that may be eliminated. The current rescis-
sion process requires the President to release the funds after 45
days even if Congress ignores the rescission message. By contrast,
H.R. 1578 does not require that the President release the funds
after a certain amount of time elapses, but instead provides that
the funds must be released for obligation upon defeat of a rescis-
sion bill in either House. If Congress avoids a vote on the Presi-
dent's package, the President could continue to impound the funds.
Unlike current law. Congress could not force the President to spend
money by ignoring a rescission message. In effect, funds included
in a rescission message would be frozen in the pipeline until Con-
gress either votes to rescind them â€” and remove them from the
pipeline entirely â€” or to release them for obligation.
The Spratt-Stenholm compromise makes four changes from the
bill that was passed by the House last year with strong bipartisan
support. First, it eliminates the restriction on how much an author-
ized program can be reduced. Incidentally, the limitation on how
much the President can rescind was originally proposed by DiCK
Armey but has been criticized by the Wall Street Journal and Ger-
ald Solomon. Unlike the bill that passed the House last year, and
contrary to claims of a very shoddily researched Wall Street Jour-
nal editorial, there would be no limit on how much the President
could rescind any program.
Second, we have added language providing for prompt judicial re-
view if any Member challenges the constitutionality of the statute.
This language is modeled after the Gramm-Rudman language.
Third, we added language ensuring that any rescissions submit-
ted at the end of the 103d Congress would not die if Congress ad-
journed before acting.
Finally, we created a new road map for dealing with an Appro-
priations Committee alternative package of rescissions if the Presi-
dent's package is first defeated in the House. Under the bill that
was passed last year, if the President's package was defeated, the
process would have been over with no funds rescinded. The new
language provides a procedure for the House to vote on an alter-
nate list of rescissions even if the President's package is defeated.
Furthermore, the new language gives the President a chance for a
vote on his package in the Senate even if his package is defeated
in the House. If the House adopts the committee's rescissions, the
Senate still must vote up or down on the President's original pack-
age before considering any other rescissions. If there are dif-
ferences between the House and Senate passed rescissions, the dif-
ferences will be worked out in conference. In any event, no funds
would be obligated unless and until Congress defeats the Presi-
dent's package under the procedures established by the bill.
Those are the changes that have been made to the bill. I have
not heard anyone explain how those changes water down this bill.
The changes make the bill stronger and more workable than the
bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the House last year. It is
stronger and more workable than some of the bills introduced by
Mr. Armey and Mr. Solomon in the past.
This proposal was described last year by Gerry Solomon as "a
tremendous compromise * * * that this House can support over-
whelmingly on both sides of the aisle." I believe that statement to
be even more true today. It provides the President with a real tool
to ferret out questionable spending items while preserving the
power of congressional majorities to control spending decisions.
The President may single out individual programs, but he must
convince a majority of Congress to agree with him before the
spending is cut. This bill will not change the balance of power be-
tween the branches, but it will increase the accountability of both
branches in the budget process. The President would have to take
the credit or the blame for rescinding items or not rescinding items.
Likewise, Congress would have to go on record supporting or oppos-
ing individual items that the President wished to rescind and de-
fend those votes back home.
I believe that this bill will be an effective tool to eliminate waste-
ful spending without disrupting the balance of power. To those of
you who believe that this bill is not strong enough and those of you
who believe that it is too strong, I would remind you that what we
are proposing here is a 2-year test drive. If we find that this bill
is too weak, we can address that when we renew the policy. Like-
wise, if it is too strong, we can make changes or let the procedure
expire after trying it. We will only know for sure how well this bill
will work after we try it.
I am submitting for the record a number of items which will be
very valuable to Members evaluating this issue as well as to schol-
ars who might be studying it. Included in this material are legal
opinions from the American Law Division and answers to the most
commonly asked questions about this issue.
The time has come for us to support this additional tool for ac-
countability and fiscal responsibility. I urge your strong support of
H.R. 1578 today.
Mr. CLINGER. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gen-
tleman from Oklahoma [Mr. Istook], a Member who has been a
leader in the fight for true line-item veto and the one who coined
the phrase, "line-item voodoo."
Mr. ISTOOK. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend the gentleman
from Texas [Mr. Stenholm], my friend, for his candor in being
careful to say that this is not line-item veto. This is what he calls
modified line-item veto, what others call expedited rescission. Un-
fortunately, Mr. Chairman, there are too many of our colleagues,
I say to the gentleman from Texas, who are putting a false label
on this and are trying to tell the folks this is line-item veto, this
is what the public has been wanting, this is what was an over-
whelming campaign issue last year.
But it is false advertising. If the public had a chance to look
under the hood on this particular piece of legislation, what would
they find? I can guarantee, if they had a chance to look under the
hood instead of just reading the sticker, they would not buy the
Here is the difference:
Under a true line-item veto bill, Mr. Chairman, the President
gets a piece of legislation. It has pork in it. He takes out his pen,
and he vetoes that pork, and, if Congress wants that spending to
occur anyway, it must override the veto by a two-thirds margin.
That is what the Castle-Solomon amendment will put in place, a
However, under the bill we have before us, Mr. Chairman, the
President gets a bill. It has pork in it. The first thing that Spratt-
Stenholm says the President must do is take out that pen and sign
the bill. He has just signed pork barrel spending into law.
Then it says he maikes a separate list and, after he signed the
bill, he makes a list of the things he did not like about it. That list
com.es back to the House and to the Senate, and, if Congress
changes its mind, if a majority of the Members approve, then the
spending does not happen.
Unless a majority of Congress can be put together to make the
cuts, the cuts do not happen. There is no such thing as an override
because there is no such thing as a veto. It is only a mechanism
for the President to send suggestions back to Congress and say,
"Please make these cuts," but there is no power, there is no author-
ity, there is no veto because after all, if Congress fails to approve
those cuts, remember the President signed the bill.
The spending will occur. That is the difference between a real bill
and a sham that people are being told is a line-item veto. Do you
want to be arrested for false advertising, for calling this a line-item
veto? That is not what it is. The Castle-Solomon amendment gives
us the opportunity to adopt something that is genuine. But calling
this thing a line-item veto is like the salesman that tells people.
"Oh, this is genuine Naugahyde, made from the hides of real
Mr. Chairman, vote for Castle-Solomon, not for Spratt-Stenholm.
Mr. DERRICK Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the distin-
guished gentleman from Utah [Mr. Orton].
Mr. ORTON. Mr. Chairman, let me just for a moment ask every-
one to set aside partisanship and consider what it is we are at-
tempting to do. The purpose of a line-item veto, or enhanced rescis-
sion, or whatever it is we want to call it, and I do not think the
public cares what it is called, the purpose is to give the President
the authority to identify items which we have included in a spend-
ing bill, in a budget, which he believes are unnecessary, to get us
to take a look at those separately and determine whether or not
we really want to spend that money. That is the purpose of it. That
is the way you eliminate pork.
Mr. Chairman, the concept is not to shift the power of the purse
from the Congress to the President; it is simply to be able to iden-
tify those items of bad spending and get rid of them.
By this bill, allowing the President to send us that list and make
us vote on the record separately, if enough of us say yes, let us
spend the money, then we ought to spend the money because we
have the power of the purse under the Constitution.
But if we agree with the President and say this is bad spending,
we ought not do it, then we agree and we pass the rescission re-
quest the President has sent. The power of this package is to force
us to go on the record.
Mr. Chairman, many of my friends on this side of the aisle will
say, "Wait a minute, I don't want to go on the record. I don't want
to have this piece of spending put on the record under a spending
vote, because if it goes under scrutiny, it won't be passed."
Mr. Chairman, I submit to you, drop the partisanship, look to the
real purpose of what we trying to do, and pass this bill, because
it is the best we are going to get.
I rise in support of H.R. 1578. I am a cosponsor of this legislation
and strongly support the concept of expedited rescission authority.
The measure could, however, be improved. It could be made
I am disappointed that, having decided we wEinted to have this
safeguard, we watered it down. I would like to have seen the same
line item veto principle applied to tax expenditures. There's pork
in tax legislation that's just as fat, just as potbellied, as any appro-
priations bill around.
I would also like to have seen certain contract authority added
to the bill. Look at any major authorization bill, and you can prac-
tically hear the barnyard noises where all those special interest
sections granting contract authority are located.
I was prepared to offer two amendments, so that my colleagues
would have an opportunity to express their views on extending the
modified line item veto to tax expenditures and to contract author-
ity. Under the rule, I cannot offer these amendments, but I urge
my colleagues to consider how far we have fallen short if we enact
controls only on appropriations and not on these other two ways of
draining the budget.
Over the decades we have seen Congress try to put a lid on
spending, only to see the lid blown because not enough safeguards