Here's the thing, the lone Republican obstructionist with no new ideas of his own and is out of touch with mainstream America -- and apparently 96% of the Senate -- was holding up the Senate's first piece of legislation by the new 110th for partisan political gain and wasting the tax payers time.
Nothing I said really means anything, but I got so sick of hearing those baseless schoolyard insults over the past six years that I'm still itching to give it right back to the Grand Oil Party. Some of it is actually true though, the lone Republican is Judd Gregg who is hell bent on ceding power given to the Congress by the Constitution to the President. Called the line-item-veto because its successor allowed the President to veto specific items of legislation without the need to veto the entire bill, it has been previously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The founding fathers intentionally made the executive branch the weakest of the three because it's administered by a single person. No single person in the Senate can pass a funding bill or declare war, and no single judge may have a final say on a persons guilt or the constitutionality of a law. Each branch exists as a check and balance of power on the other two, with the executive having the fewest powers of all. This is the way it was intended, and when President Bush declares the executive branch as one that is coequal to the Congress and the courts, it simply shows the mans personal ignorance of history and the law; the founders had no interest in seeing an American King or Queen.
The line-item-veto had good intentions in allowing the President the ability to cut pork barrel spending and earmarks out of spending bills, but it wasn't limited to spending bills or spending in general in its original incarnation. The problem presented is in the very specific way the Constitution divides the powers.
Article I, Section 1 All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
All powers, which obviously includes authoring, belongs to the Congress and nobody else. The courts interpreted this article to mean that when the President changes a bill by vetoing specific items, he is in effect changing and authoring new legislation, which violates Article I. Section 7 addresses the powers delegated to the President. I'll break this down into smaller parts to make it more clear.
Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.
This is the only power over legislation that the Constitution grants the office of the President. "If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it". No where does it say that the President may sign a part of it and return the rest of it, and because this is stated in the Constitution, and not law, only an amendment may override this process.
The original line-item allowed the President to excise anything he wanted from bills, for the purpose of spending control. This new line-item allows the President to excise only spending related measures and those that are vetoed would be sent back to the Congress for their consideration to vote and if possible override. Senator Gregg believes these differences will pass another Constitutional test, but I strongly disagree. The original issue of the President passing legislation that the Congress did not pass (because it has been changed by removing items) has not been addressed. Any law the President signs that is not the exact law passed by Congress is unconstitutional and void, and this is supported by court case precedence.
What I find striking about this ordeal is that once Gregg's intentions to give his job to President bush were placated by shifting his amendment to the minimum wage bill to be considered next week, the bill passed nearly unanimously by a vote of 96-2. It only took 40 votes to sustain Gregg's filibuster which means somewhere around 40 Republicans were willing to hold up a law they overwhelmingly supported just to get a totally unrelated amendment attached to an ethics reform bill. Does no one else see the irony of that?
It's shameful the lengths some people will go to get their way, hurting things that they themselves support. And I'm not entirely sure what it is that Senator Gregg thinks he accomplished yesterday. I find it unlikely that the amendment will find enough support to pass in todays Democratic Congress when it couldn't even pass in last years Republican Senate, when the GOP had 4 more votes than Dems have now.
I think ultimately the amendment will be voted down along party lines and the only thing Senator Gregg will have done is prove to his constituents that his personal interest in violating the Constitution and giving his job to President Bush like a good little lapdog trumps their own. Giving more power to a branch that was purposefully weakened by the founders is more important to Gregg than cleaning up corruption that his own party infected the Senate with.