NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wimpy Little Line-Item Veto Pen

November 13, 1997

The President's first use of his line-item veto power did not endanger Big Government, budget-conscious critics note.

  • While he canceled 38 military construction projects, he let 417 others stand -- including 107 projects his administration had not even requested.
  • In the $248 billion defense bill he vetoed just 13 projects worth $114 million -- letting more than 700 projects pass that had not been requested by the White House and with seemingly no defense connection, such as a landfill and an electric vehicle project.
  • Clinton vetoed only one item in the $25.6 billion Treasury and Postal Service appropriations bill.
  • Just eight projects worth a mere $19 million were excised from the $21.2 billion energy and water appropriations bill.

Only 10 projects were removed from the Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development bills. Line-item backers urge the president to establish coherent standards for its use, then exercise it aggressively, not randomly.

Source: Timothy J. Penny (former Democratic Congressman from Minnesota), "Pork Is Safe From This President's Line-Item Vetoes," Wall Street Journal, November 13, 1997.


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