- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

President Bush yesterday called for the Senate to send him a bill establishing a legislative line-item veto, saying the tool is important to restrain spending and keep the economy growing.

The House has passed a version of the line-item veto that would give the president new powers to strip projects out of spending bills. Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address, said it is time for the Senate do the same.

“This was a victory for the taxpayers and for spending restraint,” he said. “I call on the Senate to show a bipartisan commitment to fiscal discipline by passing the line-item veto so we can work together to cut wasteful spending, reduce the deficit and save money for American taxpayers.”

He said he would use the line-item veto to eliminate many of the pork-barrel projects that lawmakers insert into spending bills. Such projects totaled $29 billion last year.

“A line-item veto would reduce the incentive for Congress to spend wastefully because, when lawmakers know their pet projects will be held up to public scrutiny, they will be less likely to suggest them in the first place,” Mr. Bush said.

The president plans a speech Tuesday to make another push for a Senate bill.

Since Hurricane Katrina created budget headaches last year, conservatives have called for more spending restraint in Congress and the White House.

Mr. Bush won a round in the spending fight earlier this month when Congress sent him an emergency spending bill at his target number, far below what the Senate had proposed to spend. He seeks to capitalize on that victory with the line-item veto.

The legislation would allow the president to identify proposed cuts in spending measures and send them back to Congress, which would have a set period of time to vote on the executive bill.

The president currently can send up a bill with spending cuts, but Congress is under no obligation to vote on it.

In 1996, Congress gave the president full line-item veto authority to strip items from spending bills, but the Supreme Court ruled that power unconstitutional, arguing it ceded too much authority from the legislature to the executive.

The American Conservative Union sent an e-mail alert last week calling for supporters to lobby the Senate to approve line-item veto authority. The bill passed the House by a 247-172 vote Thursday, with 212 Republicans and 35 Democrats in support.

In 1996, the line-item veto act passed the House by unanimous consent, which means not one lawmaker objected, and the bill passed the Senate by a 69-31 vote.

Delivering the Democrats’ weekly radio address, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean criticized the way Mr. Bush is conducting the war in Iraq.

“The overall quality of life for the Iraqi people has not improved,” Mr. Dean said. He compared the administration’s pursuit of the war to Vietnam.

“The parallels between the mistakes being made today in Iraq and the behavior of a government a generation ago are striking,” he said. “Troops are sent to fight by an administration that refuses to listen to the advice of military leaders.”

He bristled at Republican charges that anti-war Democrats want to “cut and run.” The Senate last week soundly defeated a Democrat-proposed amendment to withdraw troops from Iraq.

“The words ‘cut and run’ don’t belong in this debate,” Mr. Dean said. “That’s a disservice to our courageous soldiers. This debate is about not making the same mistakes our government made a generation ago.”

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