Earmark Reform Could Include Limited Line-Item Veto

Posted December 14, 2008 at 3:11pm

Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) could include a limited line-item veto for President-elect Barack Obama as part of a broader earmark reform plan that the two lawmakers are developing, Democratic and Republican aides said. According to these sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity late Friday, staff for the two lawmakers have discussed incorporating Feingold’s 2007 Congressional Accountability and Line-Item Veto Act in their earmark reform proposal. Feingold and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Ill.) introduced companion versions of the line-item bill in 2007 as a way to control earmark spending. The bill would require the House and Senate to approve any presidential line-item vetoes as a way to protect Congress’ spending authority. That provision could help McCain and Feingold avoid opposition from Republicans if a line-item veto is adopted as part of their earmark plan. “Old Bull” Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in particular, have long opposed giving the executive branch too much control over approving earmarks, complaining that to do so is an abrogation of Congress’ constitutional authority to appropriate federal funds. “We think it’s time to bring these earmarks out into the open and make sure that they get the toughest possible scrutiny from both Congress and the president. There is no excuse for a system that allows that kind of wasteful spending year after year,” Feingold said last year at the time of the bill’s introduction.