line item veto: a special veto that lets state or national leaders pass a bill despite rejecting certain parts of it
The default standard here in the US is that a bill is either approved or it's not. Vote yay or nay. In or out. Auf wiedersehen.
As we learned in last week's jargon lesson, sometimes a single bill can be hundreds of lines thick, with oodles of provisions that are directly relevant to the core platform -- and, occasionally, a few riders that throw the whole thing sideways. In the traditional all-or-nothing voting system, legislators have to take the whole enchilada back to task when a bill is rejected, discussing and revising and re-approving it. Allowing for a line item veto lets a chief executive weed out any questionable lines while still passing the core of the bill. Lawmakers can then work on new bills that directly address those weeded-out bits ... or figure out new ways to weed them back in to other bills.
This may sound simple, but it's actually a quite elusive privilege. In fact, though many Presidents had aimed for it, the only US POTUS granted line item veto power was Bill Clinton, who said, "From now on, presidents will be able to say 'no' to wasteful spending or tax loopholes, even as they say 'yes' to vital legislation... Special interests will not be able to play the old game of slipping a provision into a massive bill in the hope that no one will notice."
While supporters agreed with Clinton that, in the end, the line item veto would protect the people from wasted time and money, critics saw it as an affront to the democratic process, negating our checks-and-balances procedures.
But did the Presidential line item veto end with Clinton's term? Bush didn't get it. Neither did Obama. Doesn't mean it's off the radar, though. Back in February, Congress voted to allow Obama the right to trim pork barrel spending via line item cuts; the Senate, however, has yet to move the decision forward.
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