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Public Papers - 1990

Message to the Congress Transmitting a Joint Resolution Proposing a Line-Item Veto Constitutional Amendment


To the Congress of the United States:

I forward to you today a Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to authorize the President to disapprove or reduce items of spending authority and to disapprove substantive provisions contained in appropriations measures.

Amending our national charter is a profoundly serious step, and I am fully aware of the great responsibility involved in proposing such an action. My proposal, however, is supported by ample precedent. Today, the Governors of 43 of the 50 States have line-item veto authority, and for more than a century American Presidents have urged the Congress to adopt this reform at the Federal level. We have never needed it more than now. By enabling the President to open up massive omnibus spending packages and pare out wasteful and unneeded spending, this amendment would address one of the most serious and intractable issues facing the Nation today -- the collapse of Federal fiscal discipline that has helped to saddle us with trillions of dollars of debt.

This amendment has been painstakingly crafted to ensure that the Congress has a chance to pass on each item lined out of a bill, using procedures essentially identical to those now in the Constitution. Its only purpose is to enable both the President and the Congress to take a closer look at the way we spend the taxpayers' money -- to bring out into the sunlight the kinds of hidden, abusive spending proposals that would never make it on their own.

I look forward to working with you on this proposal, and I am confident that by enacting it we will place the Constitution and the Nation on a sounder footing than ever before.

George Bush

The White House,

April 25, 1990.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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