U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH), with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), recently introduced the Stop Over-Spending (S.O.S.) Act. The act includes provisions that would give the President line-Item veto power and establish a commission to evaluate federal programs and report to Congress which programs should be realigned or eliminated. The legislation aims to decrease the federal government's wasteful spending.
Some people might recall that a CRS report released this March found that many earmarks are not legally binding because they were added to committee and managers reports but not to the actual text of the bill. "These non-legislated earmarks are not legally binding, and the Administration has the authority to stop them," said Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in a press release. Senators DeMint, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to use his authority to stop wasteful earmarks, but the president resisted. Robert Novak speculated that the White House was reluctant to anger committee chairmen and risk "retaliation."
The line-item veto outlined in the S.O.S. Act, dubbed by Forbes Magazine as "Line-Item Veto Lite," allows the president to single out wasteful items contained in appropriations bills he signs into law and would require Congress to vote on those items again.
-- Mandy Smithberger