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104th Congress Rept. 104-11,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session Part 1
LINE ITEM VETO ACT
January 27, 1995.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Solomon, from the Committee on Rules,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
ADDITIONAL AND DISSENTING VIEWS
[To accompany H.R. 2]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Rules, to whom was referred the bill (H.R.
2) to give the President item veto authority over appropriation
Acts and targeted tax benefits in revenue Acts, having
considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendments (stated in terms of the page and line numbers
of the introduced bill) are as follows:
Page 5, line 6, strike ``which--'' and strike lines 7 through
12 and insert the following:
which only disapproves, in whole, rescissions of
discretionary budget authority or only disapproves
vetoes of targeted tax benefits in a special message
transmitted by the President under this Act and--
(A) which does not have a preamble;
(B)(i) in the case of a special message
regarding rescissions, the matter after the
enacting clause of which is as follows: ``That
Congress disapproves each rescission of
discretionary budget authority of the President
as submitted by the President in a special
message on ________'', the blank space being
filled in with the appropriate date and the
public law to which the message relates; and
(ii) in the case of a special message
regarding vetoes of targeted tax benefits, the
matter after the enacting clause of which is as
follows: ``That Congress disapproves each veto
of targeted tax benefits of the President as
submitted by the President in a special message
on ________'', the blank space being filled in
with the appropriate date and the public law to
which the message relates; and
(C) the title of which is as follows: ``A
bill disapproving the recommendations submitted
by the President on ________'', the blank space
being filled in with the date of submission of
the relevant special message and the public law
to which the message relates.
Page 7, strike lines 13 through 17, and insert the following
(c) Introduction of Rescission/Receipts Disapproval Bills.--
The procedures set forth in subsection (d) shall apply to any
rescission/receipts disapproval bill introduced in the House of
Representatives not later than the third calendar day of
session beginning on the day after the date of submission of a
special message by the President under section 3.
Page 7, after line 17, insert the following new section:
(d) Consideration in the House of Representatives.--(1) The
committee of the House of Representatives to which a
rescission/receipts disapproval bill is referred shall report
it without amendment, and with or without recommendation, not
later than the eighth calendar day of session after the date of
its introduction. If the committee fails to report the bill
within that period, it is in order to move that the House
discharge the committee from further consideration of the bill.
A motion to discharge may be made only by an individual
favoring the bill (but only after the legislative day on which
a Member announces to the House the Member's intention to do
so). The motion is highly privileged. Debate thereon shall be
limited to not more than one hour, the time to be divided in
the House equally between a proponent and an opponent. The
previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion
to its adoption without intervening motion. A motion to
reconsider the vote by which the motion is agreed to or
disagreed to shall not be in order.
(2) After a rescission/receipts disapproval bill is reported
or the committee has been discharged from further
consideration, it is in order to move that the House resolve
into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union
for consideration of the bill. All points of order against the
bill and against consideration of the bill are waived. The
motion is highly privileged. The previous question shall be
considered as ordered on that motion through its adoption
without intervening motion. A motion to reconsider the vote by
which the motion is agreed to or disagreed to shall not be in
order. During consideration of the bill in the Committee of the
Whole, the first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with.
General debate shall proceed without intervening motion, shall
be confined to the bill, and shall not exceed two hours equally
divided and controlled by a proponent and an opponent of the
bill. After general debate the Committee shall rise and report
the bill to the House. The previous question shall be
considered as ordered on the bill to final passage without
intervening motion. A motion to reconsider the vote on passage
of the bill shall not be in order.
(3) Appeals from the decisions of the Chair relating to the
application of the rules of the House of Representatives to the
procedure relating to a bill described in subsection (a) shall
be decided without debate.
(4) It shall not be in order to consider more than one bill
described in subsection (c) or more than one motion to
discharge described in paragraph (1) with respect to a
particular special message.
(5) Consideration of any rescission/receipts disapproval bill
under this subsection is governed by the rules of the House of
Representatives except to the extent specifically provided by
the provisions of this Act.
Page 7, line 18, strike ``(d)'' and insert ``(e)''.
Page 8, line 22, strike ``(e)'' and insert ``(f)''.
Page 8, lines 23 and 24, and on page 9, lines 4 and 5, strike
``or the House of Representatives'' each place it appears.
purpose of legislation
H.R. 2 provides for a Presidential line item veto to
rescind all or part of any discretionary budget authority or
veto any targeted tax benefit that meets the specifications of
this Act. H.R. 2 outlines specific procedures for consideration
by the House and Senate of disapproval of such a special
On January 24 the Committee held an informal briefing on
Section 5 of H.R. 2 (which deals with consideration of a
disapproval bill in the House and the Senate). Stanley Bach,
senior specialist in the legislative process at CRS, provided
members and staff with general background and options for
applying expedited procedures to consideration of a bill to
disapprove a Presidential rescission or targeted tax break veto
The Committee met on January 26, 1995 to mark-up H.R. 2.
The Committee ordered H.R. 2 reported with amendments by a
record vote of 9-4. During the mark-up two amendments
pertaining to expedited procedures were offered en bloc and
agreed to by voice vote. An amendment in the nature of a
substitute was rejected by a record vote of 4-9.
In the perennial discussion about the need to reduce the
mounting federal debt, the line item veto has been a frequent
and controversial topic of debate. In public opinion surveys,
most Americans consistently voice support for the line item
veto, a budgeting tool that is already granted in some form to
43 of the nation's governors. In recent Congresses, the House
has considered several variations on the theme of enhancing
Presidential authority in the budget process by allowing for
expedited procedures in cancelling specific federal spending or
targeted tax benefits. But while the House has approved several
measures under the guise of tightening control over spending,
it has consistently missed opportunities to implement an
effective item veto. It is interesting to note that the first
line item veto proposal introduced in the House occurred in
In the 103rd Congress, the House twice considered and
approved legislation granting the President ``expedited
rescission'' authority over appropriations and targeted tax
measures, first in the form of H.R. 1578 (which passed the
House 258-157 on April 29, 1993) and then again in the form of
H.R. 4600 (which passed the House 342-69 on July 14, 1994). The
expedited procedures established by these bills would require
the Congress to vote on approval of the President's rescission
within a specified period, a marginal improvement over current
law, which essentially allows the Congress to ignore a
Although H.R. 4600 began as the identical text to H.R.
1578, it was amended on the House floor to make the expedited
procedures permanent, allow the President to utilize the
procedures at any time, allow 50 representatives or 15 senators
to offer a motion to strike from a rescissions package an
individual proposal and allow the President to specify that the
savings go to deficit reduction. Both H.R. 1578 and H.R. 4600
died without final action in the Senate upon adjournment of the
H.R. 1578 and H.R. 4600 would have made incremental
improvements in the budget process, by requiring Congress to
vote on rescissions under expedited procedures, but neither
bill would have established a true line item veto. By placing
the burden of action on affirming the President's rescissions,
rather than disapproving them, both H.R. 1578 and H.R. 4600
would have allowed a simple majority of either House to block
the President's rescissions.
On April 29, 1993 Representative Castle of Delaware offered
a substitute for H.R. 1578 to subject presidential rescissions
to a congressional disapproval process. The amendment was first
successfully amended by Representative Michel of Illinois, by a
vote of 257 to 157, to make targeted tax benefits subject to
presidential veto authority. However, the Castle amendment as
amended was subsequently rejected by a vote of 198 to 219.
On July 14, 1994, Representative Solomon of New York
offered a substitute for H.R. 4600 to make presidential vetoes
of both budget authority and targeted tax benefits subject to a
congressional disapproval process. This time the amendment lost
by an even closer vote of 205 to 218.
H.R. 2, a bi-partisan bill introduced by Representatives
Clinger, Blute, Neumann and Parker on the opening day of the
104th Congress, is virtually identical to the Solomon, line
item veto substitute that was narrowly rejected in the second
session of the 103rd Congress. H.R. 2 requires that, unless the
Congress acts within a specified period to disapprove the
President's rescissions, those rescissions will automatically
take effect and the identified spending or targeted tax benefit
will be cancelled. If the Congress disapproves the President's
rescissions, the President would be likely to veto that
disapproval, forcing the Congress to muster two thirds of both
Houses to override that veto. In this way, it becomes more
difficult to sustain spending or targeted tax breaks that the
President has attempted to cancel. The scales are tilted toward
cutting spending--which is the purpose of the line item veto.
While no one would contend that a line item veto on its own
will be enough to restrain spending and bring the federal
budget into balance, a recent GAO report indicates that this
type of fiscal discipline could have a significant impact upon
federal spending. In a January 1992 report, the GAO concluded
that, although the effectiveness of a Presidential line item
veto could vary by Administration and spending areas of the
If Presidential line item veto/line item reduction
authority had been applied to all items to which
objections were raised in the Statements of
Administration Policy during fiscal years 1984 through
1989, spending could have been reduced by amounts
ranging from $7 billion in 1985 to $17 billion in 1987,
for a 6-year total of about $70 billion. This would
have reduced federal deficits and borrowing by 6.7
percent, from the $1059 billion that actually occurred
during that period to $989 billion. (Emphasis added.)
H.R. 2 is a milestone in the budget reform process. For all
the rhetoric in past years, the House has never demonstrated
its commitment to an effective line item veto--until now. H.R.
2 marks the beginning of a monumental effort to change the way
Congress does business and restore public confidence in its
ability to manage the nation's finances.
The Committee notes with approval President Clinton's
announcement, as recently as this week in his State of the
Union address, that he will now support a line item veto, after
having favored the expedited rescission alternative instead
over the past two years. With the President's full support this
can be made a truly effective instrument for pruning both
wasteful spending and special interest tax breaks.
procedures under current law
Section 1012 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment
Control Act of 1974 provides that the President may submit to
Congress proposed rescissions (the permanent cancellation of
previously appropriated budget authority) throughout the year.
If both the House and the Senate have not approved a proposed
rescission within 45 days of its submission, the funds affected
are automatically released to be spent.
Section 1017 of the Budget Act further provides expedited
procedures which allow one-fifth of either chamber of Congress
to move to discharge the President's rescission proposal from
the Appropriations Committee and bring it to the floor for a
vote if the Committee has not acted on it within 25 days of
continuous session. However, under Section 904 of the Budget
Act these provisions are ``an exercise of the rulemaking power
of the House of Representatives and the Senate,'' meaning that
they can be waived by the vote of a simple majority. The
difficulty of exercising these expedited procedures was
highlighted in April of 1992, when Members of the House
attempted to invoke sections 1012 and 1017 of the Budget Act to
obtain votes on 96 of President Bush's rescissions. In a
successful attempt to block this move, the rules were waived
and the votes on President Bush's original rescissions never
occurred. While the House did consider and pass an alternate
package of rescissions, Members were denied the opportunity to
debate and vote on the original rescission message.
analysis of legislation
H.R. 2 establishes expedited procedures for consideration
of a special rescission or veto message by the President. It
sets forth a detailed timetable of action by the Congress
(including specified procedures for Senate floor debate and
action) in considering a rescission or receipts disapproval
bill triggered by such a special Presidential message. The
Rules Committee amendments to H.R. 2 expressly define a
disapproval bill as one that encompasses an entire special
message of the President, disapproving each rescission of
discretionary budget authority or each veto of targeted tax
benefits sought by the President. This amendment to H.R. 2 is
designed to ensure that there is no confusion about the content
of such a disapproval bill. The Congress must vote on
disapproval of a President's entire rescission or targeted tax
benefit veto package. The specific outline of what a
disapproval bill must include ensures that no unrelated matter
could be incorporated into this process and members could not
``cherry-pick'' from a President's special message.
The term targeted tax benefit is specifically defined in
H.R. 2 to mean any provision of a revenue act that the
President determines would provide a federal tax benefit to 5
or fewer taxpayers. Calendar days of session in H.R. 2 are
defined as those days in which both Houses of Congress are in
Under the provisions of H.R. 2, the President must notify
the Congress of his intent to rescind spending or veto a
targeted tax break within 20 calendar days of the date of
enactment of a regular or supplemental appropriation act, or a
joint resolution making continuing appropriations providing
such budget authority or a revenue act containing a targeted
tax benefit. The President must submit to the Congress a
separate rescission message for each appropriation act and for
each revenue act subject to veto.
The Presidential message must specify: (1) the amount of
budget authority rescinded or the targeted tax provision
vetoed; (2) any account, department or establishment of the
government to which the budget authority is available for
obligation and the specific project or government functions
involved; (3) the reason for the President's decision to
rescind that budget authority or veto that tax benefit; (4) the
estimated fiscal, economic and budgetary effect of the
President's action; and (5) the circumstances bearing upon the
President's decision to seek the rescission or veto and the
likely impact of this action on relevant projects, purposes and
Any such special Presidential message shall be transmitted
to each House of Congress on the same day, referred to the
appropriate committees of the House and the Senate and printed
as a document of each House. The special message shall also be
printed in the first published Federal Register after
The Rules Committee amendment to H.R. 2 outlines specific
expedited procedures in the House to guarantee the opportunity
for a vote on a disapproval bill. The purpose of these
procedures is to ensure that Members of Congress have a means
to express their disapproval of a President's rescissions or
veto of a targeted tax benefit. These procedures do not require
a vote; they allow for one if members seek one and fulfill the
Specifically, the Rules Committee amendment to H.R. 2
provides that, in order to qualify for expedited procedures, a
disapproval bill must be introduced in the House within 3 days
of submission of a Presidential special message. The bill would
be referred to the appropriate committee (either Appropriations
or Ways & Means as the case may be). The committee would have 8
days in which to report the disapproval bill. This period is
granted to allow adequate time for the committee to consider
the bill, order it reported and provide the required 3-day
opportunity for members to file views.
If the relevant committee fails to report the disapproval
bill within that time-frame, any Member in support of the
disapproval bill may announce his or her intention to offer a
motion to discharge the bill on the following day. This sets in
motion a process whereby a majority of the House would have to
vote three times (on the motion to discharge, the motion to
consider and passage of the bill) in order to approve the
disapproval bill and send it to the Senate. Under these
procedures, debate is limited, and no amendments are allowed.
The Rules Committee amendment to H.R. 2 also provides
procedures for floor consideration of the disapproval bill if
the relevant committee does report the disapproval bill in
timely fashion. These procedures would require the House to
pass two hurdles: the first being a vote on the motion to
consider and the second being passage of the disapproval bill.
In addition, the amendment provides that all points of
order against the disapproval bill and its consideration shall
be waived to ensure that parliamentary maneuvering on the floor
does not block members' opportunity to have a vote on the
President's rescissions or targeted tax benefit vetoes.
H.R. 2 also provides that spending and targeted tax breaks
will be deemed to have been cancelled if the Congress does not
act to disapprove the President's special rescission or veto
message within 20 calendar session days. If the Congress does
act, the President would have 10 days (not including Sundays)
during which to exercise his veto authority of such a
rescission or receipts disapproval bill, the same period as is
granted to a President by the constitution for a traditional
veto. Should he exercise that authority, both Houses of
Congress would have an additional 5 calendar days in which to
override the veto by two-thirds majority.
If the second session of a Congress has adjourned sine die
before the expiration of the time period established under this
act, H.R. 2 allows the President's special rescission or veto
message to be deemed to have been retransmitted on the first
day of the next Congress. The review period established by this
act shall commence after that day. If the first session of a
Congress has adjourned sine die in the midst of this timetable,
H.R. 2 provides that the clock shall stop ticking and resume on
the first day of the second session of the Congress.
H.R. 2 outlines specific procedures for consideration in
the Senate of any rescission/receipts disapproval bill received
from the House. Debate in the Senate on such a bill and related
debatable motions and appeals shall be limited to no more than
ten hours, with debate on any debatable motion or appeal
limited to one hour.
The bill further specifies that it shall not be in order in
the Senate to consider any rescission/receipts disapproval bill
that relates to any matter other than the rescission of budget
authority or veto of the tax benefit transmitted by the
President under this Act. H.R. 2 also specifies that it shall
not be in order in the Senate to consider any amendment to a
rescission/receipts disapproval bill. Finally, H.R. 2 specifies
that the two above described points of order may only be waived
or suspended in the Senate by a three-fifths vote of its
An analysis of the draft bill prepared for this committee
by the American Law Division of the Congressional Research
Service and dated December 30, 1994 concludes, despite
contentions by critics to the contrary, that the line item veto
as established by H.R. 2 is constitutional. The CRS analysis
explores the precedents of constitutional law with respect to
delegation of Congressional authority, concluding that--
[T]he precedents establish no constitutional barrier to
delegation of a power to the President, or in fact to
any other permissible recipient of delegated authority,
to set aside or void an act of Congress.
The CRS report goes on to assert that--
[N]othing in delegation doctrine suggests that Congress
may not delegate power over appropriations or taxes,
and in fact the breadth of the language and the results
in delegation cases provide more than adequate support
for the conclusion that delegation in this context is
proper under the constitution.
In noting that there must be some standards and clear
Congressional intent accompanying a delegation of Congressional
power, the CRS report notes that--
[W]hile insisting on standards, the [Supreme] Court has
contented itself with the most minimal of policy
direction and statement of goals. It has emphasized
practicality * * * Apparently, general statements of
policy that Congress hopes to see effectuated will
Ultimately, the CRS report concludes that--
[I]t seems, therefore, on the basis of textual analysis
and precedent that it would be constitutionally
permissible for Congress to delegate to the President
the power to reduce or omit various items from
appropriations acts under the terms set out in the
Section 1. Short title
Section 1 provides that the bill's short title is the
``Line Item Veto Act.''
Sec. 2. Line item veto authority
Section 2 specifies that the President may rescind all or
part of any discretionary budget authority or veto any targeted
tax benefit if: the President determines that this action would
help reduce the Federal budget deficit; will not impair any
essential government functions; and will not harm the national
interest. This recission or veto would take effect if: the
President notifies Congress of such action by a special message
not later than 20 calendar days (not including Saturdays,
Sundays or holidays) after the date of enactment of a regular
or supplemental appropriation act or a joint resolution making
continuing appropriations providing such budget authority or a
revenue act containing a targeted tax benefit. This section
further specifies that the President shall submit a separate
rescission message for each appropriation act and for each
revenue act affected by this action.
Sec. 3. Line item veto effective unless disapproved
Section 3 establishes that a Presidential rescission or
veto action as outlined in section 2 will take effect,
cancelling the spending and/or targeted tax benefit specified
unless a rescission/receipts disapproved bill is enacted into
law within the period specified. In order to disapprove a
rescission or targeted tax veto, within 20 calendar session
days of receipt of a Presidential rescission or veto message,
both Houses of Congress must complete action on a rescission/
receipts disapproved bill and present such a bill to the
President. The President will then have an additional ten days
(not including Sundays) to exercise his authority to sign or
veto the rescission/receipts disapproval bill. If the President
vetoes the rescission/receipts disapproval bill then both
Houses of Congress have an additional five calendar days of
session in which to override the veto.
This section further specifies that if the last session of
Congress adjourns sine die before this period expires, the
rescission or veto shall not take effect but the message will
be deemed to have been retransmitted on the first day of the
succeeding Congress and the entire review period as specified
will run beginning after that day.
Sec. 4. Definitions
Section 4 defines ``rescission/receipts disapproval bill''
as a bill which: only disapproves rescissions of discretionary
budget authority, in whole, rescinded or only disapproves
vetoes of any targeted tax benefits as transmitted in a special
message by the President. The Rules Committee amendment to this
section includes specific language for the text of such
disapproval bills. This section further defines ``calendar days
of session'' as only those days in which both Houses of
Congress are in session. It defines ``targeted tax benefit'' as
any provision of a revenue act which the President determines
would provide a federal tax benefit to 5 or fewer taxpayers.
Sec. 5. Congressional consideration of line item vetoes
Section 5 specifies the content of the special message the
President shall submit if he intends to rescind any budget
authority or veto any targeted tax benefit. Such a special
message must include the amount of budget authority rescinded
or the provision vetoed; identification of accounts,
departments or other government establishments and specific
projects or government functions impacted; the reasons for his
decision to take this action; estimated fiscal, economic and
budgetary effect of this action; considerations bearing upon
his decision to take this action and the estimated effect this
action will have upon related objects, purposes and programs.
This section also outlines procedures for transmitting the
special message to both Houses of Congress and printing the
message in the Federal Register.
The Rules Committee amendment establishes a series of
expedited procedures for House consideration of a disapproval
bill. In order to qualify for these expedited procedures, a
disapproval bill must be introduced in the House not later than
3 calendar days of session after the submission of a special
Presidential message. If the committee to which such a
disapproval bill is referred fails to report the bill within 8
calendar days of session after its introduction, a Member in
support of the disapproval bill may announce his or her
intention to make a motion to discharge the bill from committee
after that legislative day. Such a motion to discharge is
highly privileged and debate is limited to one hour, equally
divided and controlled by a proponent and an opponent. The
previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion
to its adoption without intervening motion. It is not in order
to move to reconsider the vote on the motion.
The Rules Committee amendment to this section further
provides that once the disapproval bill is reported or the
committee is discharged, a motion to resolve the House into the
Committee of the Whole is in order, and all points of order
against the bill and its consideration are waived. This motion
is highly privileged and is not debatable. The previous
question shall be considered as ordered on that motion through
its adoption without intervening motion. A motion to reconsider
is not in order.
If that motion is agreed to, the first reading is dispensed
with and general debate shall be limited to 2 hours, equally
divided and controlled, without intervening motion. After the
debate the committee shall rise and report the bill to the
House, the previous question shall be considered as ordered to
final passage without intervening motion. A motion to
reconsider the vote on passage of the bill shall not be in
Appeals from the decisions of the Chair relating to the way
House rules are applied to this procedure shall be decided
without debate. The House may not consider more than one bill
or more than one motion to discharge with respect to any given
presidential special message. Except as stated in H.R. 2, the
rules of the House shall apply to consideration of any
disapproval bill as described in this act.
Finally, Section 5 outlines specific procedures for
consideration of such a disapproval bill in the Senate. It
establishes points of order against consideration of unrelated
matters in context with consideration of the bill, and against
consideration of any amendments to the bill, and provides for
waivers of these points of order in the Senate only by a three-
Matters required under the rules of the house
Clause 2(l)(2)(B) of rule XI requires, with respect to each
roll call vote on a motion to report any measure or matter of a
public character, and on any amendment offered to the measure
or matter, each committee report include the total number of
votes cast for and against, and the names of those members
voting for and against.
On January 26, 1995, the Committee ordered H.R. 2 reported
to the House with amendments by a record vote of 9-4, a quorum
Rules Committee Roll Call No. 31
Date: January 26, 1995.
Measure: H.R. 2, Line Item Veto Act.
Motion By: Mr. Moakley.
Summary of Motion: Amendment in the nature of a substitute
to provide for an expedited rescission process subject to
congressional approval (as opposed to disapproval).
Results: Rejected, 4 to 9.
Vote by Member: Quillen--Nay; Dreier--Nay; Goss--Nay;
Linder--Nay; Pryce--Nay; Diaz-Balart--Nay; McInnis--Nay;
Waldholtz--Nay; Moakley--Yea; Beilenson--Yea; Frost--Yea;
Rules Committee Roll Call No. 32
Date: January 26, 1996.
Measure: H.R. 2, Line Item Veto Act.
Motion By: Mr. Quillen.
Summary of Motion: Order bill reported to the House as
amended with recommendation that it pass.
Results: Adopted, 9 to 4.
Vote by Member: Quillen--Yea; Dreier--Yea; Goss--Yea;
Linder--Yea; Pryce--Yea; Diaz-Balart--Yea; McInnis--Yea;
Waldholtz--Yea; Moakley--Nay; Beilenson--Nay; Frost--Nay;
committee cost estimate
Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of rule XI requires each committee report
that accompanies a measure providing new budget authority, new
spending authority, or new credit authority or changing
revenues or tax expenditures to contain a cost estimate, as
required by section 308(a)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act
of 1974, as amended, and, when practicable with respect to
estimates of new budget authority, a comparison of the total
estimated funding level for the relevant program (or programs)
to the appropriate levels under current law.
Clause 7(a) of rule XIII requires committees to include
their own cost estimates in certain committee reports, which
include, when practicable, a comparison of the total estimated
funding level for the relevant program (or programs) with the
appropriate levels under current law.
H.R. 2 would have no direct cost to the federal government.
congressional budget office estimates
Clause 2(l)(3)(C) of rule XI requires each committee to
include a cost estimate prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office, pursuant to section 403 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, if the cost estimate is
timely submitted. The following is the CBO cost estimate as
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, January 27, 1995.
Hon. Gerald B.H. Solomon,
Chairman, Committee on Rules, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
reviewed H.R. 2, the Line Item Veto Act, as ordered reported by
the House Committee on Rules on January 26, 1995.
H.R. 2 would grant the President the authority to rescind
all or part of any discretionary budget authority or veto any
targeted tax benefit (defined as any provision of a revenue
bill that provides a federal tax benefit to five or fewer
taxpayers). To exercise this authority, the President must
transmit a special message to both houses of Congress
specifying each amount rescinded (or provision vetoed) from
appropriations (or tax provisions) within a particular bill
just signed by the President. Furthermore, the message must
include the governmental functions involved, the reasons for
the rescission or veto, and--to the extent practicable--the
estimated fiscal, economic, and budgetary effect of the action.
This message must be transmitted within 20 calendar days
(excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) of enactment of
the legislation containing the vetoed items. All budget
authority rescinded would be cancelled and any targeted tax
benefit vetoed would be repealed unless Congress, within 20
working days, passes a rescission/receipts disapproval bill to
restore the provisions. Such a rescission/receipts disapproval
bill would overturn all of the rescissions or vetoes proposed
by the President in a single special message to the Congress.
That disapproval bill would itself be subject to veto, with the
usual two-thirds vote in each house required to override.
The budgetary impact of this proposal is uncertain, because
it would depend on the manner in which the line item veto is
used by the President and the success of the Congress in
overriding vetoes; however, potential savings or costs are
likely to be relatively small. Discretionary spending currently
accounts for only one-third of total outlays and is already
tightly controlled. Mandatory spending, by far the larger part
of the budget, is not affected by H.R. 2.
By itself, this bill would not affect direct spending or
receipts, so there would be no pay-as-you-go scoring under
section 252 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit
Control Act of 1985.
Enactment of this legislation would not directly affect the
budgets of state and local governments. However, the exercise
of line item veto authority could affect federal grants to
states, federal contributions towards shared programs or
projects, and the demand for state and local programs to
compensate for increases or reductions in federal programs.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact on this issue is
Robert D. Reischaur, Director.
inflation impact statement
Clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI requires each committee report on
a bill or joint resolution of a public charter to include an
analytical statement describing what impact enactment of the
measure would have on prices and costs in the operation of the
national economy. The Committee determines that H.R. 2 has no
inflationary impact of the nation's economy.
Clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI requires each committee report
to contain oversight findings and recommendations required
pursuant to clause 2(b)(1) of rule X. Clause 2(b)(1) of rule X
calls on each standing committee, other than the Committee on
Appropriations and Budget, to review and study the
effectiveness of laws and other matters within its
The Committee makes no oversight findings or
oversight findings and recommendations of the committee on government
reform and oversight
Clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI requires each committee report
to contain a summary of the oversight findings and
recommendations made by the Government Reform and Oversight
Committee pursuant to clause 4(c)(2) of rule X, whenever such
findings have been timely submitted.
The Committee has received no such findings or
changes in existing law made by the bill, as reported
Clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires that changes in existing law made by
the bill, as reported, be included in the report.
This bill makes no direct amendments to any Act.
Clause 4(d) of rule XI requires that, whenever the
Committee on Rules reports a resolution amending or repealing
the Rules of the House of Representatives, the accompanying
report must contain a comparative print showing the changes in
existing rules proposed to be made by the resolution.
This bill makes no direct change in any rule of the House.
views of committee members
Clause 2(l)(5) of rule XI requires each committee, except
the Committee on Rules, to afford a three-day opportunity for
members of the committee to file additional, minority, or
dissenting views and to include the vies in its report.
Although the requirement does not apply to the Rules Committee,
the Committee always makes the maximum effort to provide its
members with an opportunity to submit their views.
The following views were submitted:
I support passage of the Line Item Veto Act (H.R. 2), as
reported by the House Committee on Rules, because it will give
the Congress and the Executive Branch another important tool
with which to restore fiscal responsibility to the federal
The fact that the federal debt is nearing $5 trillion
dollars, and that the federal government has run budget
deficits in 33 of the past 34 years, clearly points to the need
for new rules to control Congress' often indomitable appetite
for spending. The Republican freshman class of the 103rd
Congress recognized the need for new methods of imposing fiscal
restraint when it included both a line item veto and a
constitutional balanced budget amendment in its 19-point
congressional reform proposal.
H.R. 2 accomplishes these essential goals in several
important ways. First, the legislation enables the President to
rescind all or part of any discretionary budget authority in
appropriations bills or to veto any targeted tax benefit in
revenue bills, and requires the President to notify the
Congress of these actions in a special message. Second, the
bill requires the Congress to disapprove the President's
actions through appropriate legislation, allowing the line item
veto to take effect automatically unless Congress acts within a
specified period of time. Finally, under changes made by the
House Rules Committee during its mark-up session on January 26,
1995, H.R. 2 establishes an expedited process in the House to
guarantee Members the opportunity for a timely vote on
disapproving a President's rescissions.
Of all the issues raised during the most recent federal
elections, I firmly believe that the American people were most
concerned about reducing the level of federal spending and the
need to avoid saddling future generations of Americans--our
children and grandchildren--with an increasingly larger debt
burden. In the past, I have heard from constituents who have
become disillusioned with a Congress which has consistently
found ways to circumvent the few budgetary restraints it has
set for itself. In my view, H.R. 2, with its expedited
procedures, will help Congress and the Executive Branch
effectively identify and remove unnecessary or wasteful federal
spending, without unduly restricting the hand of either branch
of our government in performing its duties. Perhaps more
importantly, H.R. 2 places the burden on Congress to act
initially to reject a President's rescission message.
While this is not the first time that the House has
considered effective line item veto legislation, I am confident
that the 104th Congress will not overlook this important
opportunity to respond to the American public's call for a
leaner, more efficient, and less costly federal government. I
congratulate Chairman Solomon and the Republican leadership for
moving H.R. 2 forward in such a timely manner.
While we understand that many members of this House, on
both the majority and minority sides of the aisle, wish to see
a mechanism in place that will allow for a more careful
scrutiny of spending and revenue bills that are enacted, we do
not believe that H.R. 2, as reported, deserves the support of
Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution of the United
States grants to the Legislative Branch of government the ``* *
* Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imports and Excises,
to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general
Welfare of the United States * * *''.
These specifically enumerated duties granted to the
Congress by the framers of the Constitution, along with the
provisions of Section 9 of Article I which states ``* * * no
Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of
Appropriations made by Law: * * *'', have provided Congress
with what has commonly come to be termed the ``powers of the
purse''. It is this grant of power which enables the
Legislative Branch to set the spending priorities of the United
States Government. Article II grants the President, or the
Executive Branch, the authority to carry out the laws.
The historical conflict between the enactment of
legislative proposals and their execution and implementation by
the President give rise, in 1974, to the passage of the
Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (Title X of the Congressional
Budget and Impoundments Control Act.) At that time, former
President Nixon's use of impoundments--the refusal to fund
certain Congressionally mandated programs--reordered the
priorities established by the Congress under the grant of
authority of Article I of the Constitution.
While a number of court challenges arose to the President's
authority to impound appropriated funds in that period,
Congress decisively responded by passing the Impoundment
Control Act. That Act requires the President to notify the
Congress of any and all proposed rescissions and deferrals of
appropriated funds and compels the President to release and
expend those funds unless the Congress specifically takes
action to approve the proposed rescission or deferral.
This requirement that the Congress take a positive action
to approve the rescission or a portion thereof, preserves the
integrity of the prerogatives of the Congress to control the
purse which funds the activities of the Federal Government. It
requires the Congress to take affirmative action in order for
those rescissions to take effect. By taking such affirmative
action, the Congress retains its authority to set the spending
priorities of the government.
We believe that the grant of authority to the Congress
found in Article I should not be cast aside in haste. The
tension between the Executive and the Legislative branch, while
difficult and sometimes burdensome, has essentially worked
since it was designed by the Founding Fathers. We see no
compelling reason to tamper with it at this time.
Under the terms of this bill, the President's proposed
rescissions or targeted tax benefit repeals would automatically
take effect unless the Congress specifically passes a
resolution disapproving this special message. Even if Congress
overturned the Administration's disapproval, the President
could then veto the disapproval which, in turn, would have to
be overridden by two-thirds of both Houses. Effectively, the
President could cancel any spending or tax benefits with
support of only a minority of the members of either House.
This approach to line-item veto legislation would result in
a dramatic shift in responsibility and power from the
Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch. We believe that a
far more appropriate route for Presidential analysis is through
an expedited rescission/targeted tax benefit measure which
would provide an effective way to cut certain spending without
drastically altering the carefully constructed powers between
the two branches of Government. We believe that the alternative
legislation offered by the Democratic Members during the markup
of this bill strikes a balance in the desire to reduce Federal
spending while still protecting against the Constitutional
concerns raised by H.R. 2.
Our proposal would permit the President to propose to
rescind all or part of any discretionary budget authority and
to repeal any targeted tax provision passed by the Congress.
This request could only be enacted by approval by both Houses
of Congress. The proposal guarantees a vote on the President's
proposals and establishes an expedited procedure for
consideration by the Congress. Specifically, the bill would
give the President twenty days after an appropriations law is
enacted to submit a special message and draft a bill to rescind
any portion of that law. The Congress would then determine,
upon an affirmative majority vote, whether to agree to the
rescission or tax benefit repeal. Failure of either House to
approve the rescission/receipts repeal package would cause the
release of funds or tax benefits one day after defeat in either
Similar legislation passed the House twice in the 103rd
Congress. The House passed H.R. 1578 on April 29, 1993, by a
vote of 258-157 but further progress was stalled in the Senate.
The House subsequently passed a similar bill, H.R. 4600, on
July 14, 1994, by a vote of 342-69. We believe that the
strength of this bipartisan vote supports enacting this type of
rescission process to help restore public confidence in the
ability of our legislators and our chief executive to make
responsible spending decisions. It will permit the President to
identify--and the Congress to reconsider--individual spending
and tax items to determine whether these items can stand on
their own individual merit. Most importantly, the final
decision would be made by a majority and not a minority vote.
We share the majority's interest in reducing unnecessary
and wasteful federal spending; however, we believe that H.R. 2
in its current form proposes a dangerous--and potentially
unconstitutional--grant of authority to the Executive branch.
For this reason, the Democratic members opposed reporting the
bill for Floor consideration. We urge Members to support our
expedited rescission procedure as a far more favorable
alternative to the rescission measure reported by this
Anthony C. Beilenson.
Tony P. Hall.