Eliminating Earmarks: Why the Congressional Line Item Vote Can Succeed Where the Presidential Line Item Veto Failed
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Department of Politics, Students
October 5, 2009
West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 112, 2010
Congressional earmarking is an issue of growing concern in the United States. Although, at present, it only accounts for a small percentage of federal expenditures, recent trends indicate that such pork-barrel spending will soon be a significant contributor to the national debt. The federal government must work to control this problem before it becomes unmanageable. One recent attempt to reduce the number of earmarks was the Line Item Veto Act of 1996. However, on both constitutional grounds and in practice, this measure failed. Instead of acknowledging these shortcomings and crafting innovative solutions, lawmakers have repeatedly introduced bills that would once again grant the president the line item veto power.
This Article, in contrast, develops an entirely new process — the congressional line item vote. This reform forces House members to vote on individual provisions of a bill. If implemented, the congressional line item vote would decrease the deficit, eliminate earmarks, reduce log-rolling, and increase congressional accountability.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: Earmarks, Pork-barrel spending, Budget, Deficit, Debt, National debt, Line item veto, Congress, Line item vote, Transparency, Accountability, Earmarking, Reform
JEL Classification: K10, D72
Date posted: October 6, 2009 ; Last revised: July 9, 2010