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Line-Item Veto Proposal Targets Earmarks, Nondiscretionary Spending

President Barack Obama found a trio of Senate allies Wednesday in his request for line-item veto authority.

Democratic Sens. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Tom Carper (Del.) and Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) introduced legislation that would allow the president to cut nondiscretionary spending and earmarks from spending bills sent to the White House for a signature.

“Not only would the line-item veto help go after billions of dollars worth of unnecessary spending secretly tucked into larger bills, it would also shine a light on the earmark process and deter lawmakers from doing earmarks in the first place,” Feingold said in a statement.

Feingold, McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced a separate measure last year that would give the president the authority to veto earmarks only. The latest proposal is slightly broader in scope, allowing the president to go after nondiscretionary spending as well. A companion measure is expected in the House, although either bill’s chances in Congress are unclear.

Congress granted the president the power of the line-item veto in 1996, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1998. As an alternative, Obama proposed late last month giving the president 45 working days after a bill’s enactment to request spending cuts, on which Congress would have to vote.

The proposal floated Wednesday came just days after White House budget chief Peter Orszag told federal agencies to cut spending by 5 percent.

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