May 16, 2011 – 10:45 p.m.

Bill Would Present Presidents With Greater Rescission Power

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan says his committee will advance a bipartisan proposal to give presidents more power to challenge discretionary spending approved by Congress.

As both parties prepare for a showdown on increasing the debt limit, the Wisconsin Republican says he will push for floor action this summer on budget process changes including a bill he is drafting to provide the president with “enhanced rescission authority.”

Such action is unlikely before the latter part of June, but Ryan predicts that his measure will attract bipartisan support, even in the midst of what is shaping up to be a partisan battle over spending and the debt limit.

Ryan is working with Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the Budget panel’s top Democrat, who has added language to his own rescission bill (HR 1043) to make clear that funds from rescissions would not be spent elsewhere. “The White House supports my bill,” Van Hollen said.

Ryan said he has also reached out to senators, including John McCain, R-Ariz., and Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., supporters of a similar proposal (S 102).

President Obama has twice asked Congress for such authority, in both his fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2010 budget proposals.

Ryan’s bill would allow a president to challenge portions of appropriations bills. Congress would have to vote to either delete or protect the spending items.

By leaving the ultimate fate of the spending in the hands of the legislative branch, the approach is designed to satisfy the Supreme Court, which in 1998 ruled that a law granting the president line-item veto power (PL 104-130) was an unconstitutional expansion of presidential power.

Supporters of granting the executive branch more power say doing so would save money. But opponents, including Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, argue that it would shift too much power from Congress.

In 2006, Ryan helped win House passage of an enhanced rescission proposal, only to see it die in the Senate. Obama, as an Illinois senator, voted against ending a filibuster of a minimum wage bill that would have handed enhanced rescission power to President George W. Bush.

But Ryan said the proposal appears to be gaining momentum. “It has got a better shot this time,” he said.