Spratt Flip-Flops on Line-Item Veto | Citizens Against Government Waste

Spratt Flip-Flops on Line-Item Veto

The WasteWatcher

Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) chose politics over pork-busting when he switched his vote on the line-item veto bill in June.  The ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee dutifully followed the partisan orders of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vote against any Republican budget reform, even one that is proven to save taxpayer money and that Spratt had been a high-profile sponsor of in the past.

In 1996, Spratt headlined the effort to pass the presidential line-item veto and was one of only four representatives invited to the official signing of the bill into law by President Bill Clinton.  Before it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1998, President Clinton was able to veto 82 items to save $2 billion over five years. 

The number of pork projects in CAGW’s annual Congressional Pig Book has grown by 940 percent in the last ten years.  The fiscal 2006 appropriations bills contained 9,963 projects costing a record $29 billion, including $1 million for the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative, $550,000 for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, North Carolina, and $500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games in Alaska.

The Line-Item Veto Act of 2006 (H.R. 4890), introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), would allow the President to propose the elimination of individual spending items and special tax breaks in legislation.  Congress would then have 14 legislative days to hold an up-or-down vote on the President’s requested rescissions.  Congress can override the President’s vetoes with a simple majority in the House and Senate, compared with the two-thirds margin required by version that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998.  

The line-item veto would allow the President to act in the national interest, checking the most egregious spending abuses of Congress.   However, with a Republican president in place and a minority party unwilling to cede any legislative victory in an election year, Rep. Spratt abandoned his support to cut pork in order to toe the party line.  The bill passed the House on a vote of 247 to 172.  Thirty-five Democrats voted for passage.   

This is not the first time Rep. Spratt has thwarted legislation that would produce savings.  In November 2005, CAGW named him Porker of the Month for working against a budget reconciliation package that would have saved taxpayers more than $50 billion over five years.  

Spratt is the latest in a long line of flip-flopping politicians who have changed their votes at the expense of taxpayers in order to satisfy party bosses.  Taxpayers may not tolerate that inconsistency past the November elections. 

Alexa Moutevelis

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