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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Line-Item Veto Sent to President


WASHINGTON -- In a landmark vote that could transform the balance of power in Washington, the House of Representatives extended final congressional approval Thursday to legislation giving the president new power to veto individual federal spending items without killing an entire bill.

The line-item veto, already passed by the Senate and virtually certain to be signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton, was approved by a vote of 232 to 177 amid a flurry of floor action designed to resolve unsettled budget and legislative issues before a two-week congressional recess scheduled to begin Saturday.

The House also approved legislation to avert a potential government default for more than a year and adopt two other items from the Republican Party's "Contract With America": a measure to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses and another to liberalize Social Security benefits to elderly people with outside earnings. After the debt-limit package was approved by the House 328 to 91, the Senate adopted it by voice vote, sending the measure to Clinton for his probable signature.

Congressional action on the debt-limit package and the line-item veto was touted by Republican leaders as a refutation of criticism from Democrats and other analysts that this is shaping up as a "do-nothing Congress" with few legislative accomplishments.

"This bill proves the pundits wrong," said House Minority Whip Tom DeLay, a Republican from Texas. "The 'Contract with America' is alive and well."

But Democrats tried to rain on the Republican parade by disrupting debate with delaying tactics and an effort -- ultimately unsuccessful -- to force a vote on increasing the minimum wage.

Senate Republicans on Thursday pushed through final approval of a bill that would, among other provisions, increase pressure on China, cut foreign affairs spending, reorganize the State Department and prohibit assistance to nations inhibiting delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid. The president has promised to veto the bill.

The line-item veto bill would allow the president to cancel individual items in appropriations bills, block targeted tax benefits aimed at 100 or fewer beneficiaries, and veto any new entitlement spending. Under current law, because the president faces an all-or-nothing choice between vetoing a spending or tax bill in its entirety or signing it, he often has to swallow spending provisions he opposes.

The new power will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 1997 -- after the 1996 election decides what president will be the first to wield it. Proponents of the legislation called it a powerful new tool to combat wasteful spending, especially the sort of pork-barrel projects with which lawmakers typically lard appropriations bills to speed their passage.

By the time Congress goes home this weekend for a two-week recess, congressional leaders hope that they will have:

?Sent Clinton legislation limiting court awards for faulty products, a bill that started out in the House as a wide-reaching overhaul to the nation's civil litigation system but was scaled down by the Senate. Nonetheless, Clinton has said he would veto the measure.

?Sent Clinton a major overhaul of the nation's agriculture laws, phasing out subsidy programs.

?Given House approval to legislation that would make insurance more portable as employees change jobs and make it easier for people with medical conditions to buy insurance. ()