January 17, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: There’s more excitement on the Senate floor. Andrew Roth reports:

The Democrats are refusing to allow a vote on an amendment offered by Senator Judd Gregg that would give the President rescission authority, which is similar to the line-item veto.

Reid has been preaching about ethics reform and his strong desire to reduce wasteful spending, but his talk is cheap. He blocked strong earmark reform last week until he was forced to retreat and now he’s blocking a vote on another important measure that would help break the big-spending habits of Congress.

He’s got a number of updates. And Mark Tapscott reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, is speaking on the Senate floor as this is written in opposition to allowing the Senate to vote on an amendment by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, to the Senate ethics reform bill.

Gregg’s amendment uses the president’s existing recission authority as a mild version of a line-item veto and is designed to give the President a tool for highlighting wasteful spending and forcing Congress to take a second look at such proposals. The proposal would clearly make it more difficult for Members of Congress to slip wasteful spending like earmarks into legislation.

According to Gregg, the amendment provides that the president can send up to 4 rescission packages per year. Congress would be required to fast track the President’s recommendation within 8 days.

Also, unlike a line-item veto proposal that was defeated in Congress in 1996, Gregg’s amendment today requires congressional affirmation of the President’s rescission package.

Savings from rescissions passed by Congress must be used for deficit reduction. The authority sunsets after 4 years – giving Congress the ability to evaluate merits of rescission authority after President Bush and his successor have had the opportunity to use.

Reid doesn’t want the Senate to vote on the Gregg amendment, which has 30 co-sponsors, including senators from both sides of the aisle.

Incredibly, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, Reid’s majority whip, is claiming Gregg’s amendment is actually a parliamentary trick by the GOP to “bring this ethics bill down.”

Doubtful. More background here. And there’s more at Government Bytes.

I regard the line-item veto as a gimmick, and during the brief period when Clinton had one it didn’t accomplish much. I’m not sure if this is different, though the extent of the opposition from porkmeisters like Reid and Durbin suggests to me that it might be. How’s Trent Lott voting? . . . .

UPDATE: Best argument against the proposal that the Democrats won’t use: The federal deficit is disappearing anyway and will be gone within 18 months. Hmm. Anything big happening about then? . . .

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