House "Line-Item Veto" Proposal Invites Abuse By Executive Branch
 The new proposal appears to require that each package of cancellations pertain to budget items that were provided in a single piece of legislation. The President could not combine cancellations from two or more measures into a single package for an up-or-down vote. In other words, he could not combine some cancellations from the Labor-HHS appropriations bill with ones from the Transportation-Treasury-HUD appropriations bill. However, the text of the House Budget Committee proposal is not entirely clear in this respect.
 After budget legislation is enacted, the President would have 45 days to decide whether to submit a package of cancellations to Congress. After he submitted the package of proposed cancellations, he would have two additional 45 day periods — which is why we say “up to 90 days” — during which he could continue to withhold the amounts in question.
 The appropriations provided for most programs expire at the end of the fiscal year in question. In such cases, any funds that have not been obligated by September 30 revert to the Treasury. Congress frequently permits funds provided in supplemental appropriations bills to continue to be available beyond September 30, in which case they would not lapse even if withheld for 90 days. But unless Congress provides a longer “term of availability” in this way, a 90-day withholding period could lead to the expiration of funds, even if Congress had voted to disapprove the President’s proposed cancellations.
Acting Congressional Budget Office director Donald Marron commented on this aspect of the proposal in recent testimony on the Administration’s line-item veto proposal, which allowed a 180-day withholding period. Marron noted that the withholding of funds “would not end upon the Congress’s rejection of the rescission proposals…,” giving the President the “power to unilaterally defer spending for six months, thereby effectively canceling some budget authority and some programs altogether (for which the funding would lapse at the end of the fiscal year…” The risk that Marron cited would be reduced by the requirement in the Budget Committee legislation that the President propose his vetoes within 45 days of the enactment of budget legislation and with a 90-day rather than a 180-day withholding period, but the risk would not entirely be eliminated. Statement of Donald B. Marron before the Subcommittee on the Legislative and Budget Process, House Rules Committee, March 15, 2006, available at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7079/03-15-LineItemVeto.pdf.
 Morton Rosenberg, Specialist in American Public Law at the Congressional Research Service, letter to Senator John Kerry, April 26, 2006.
 The Budget Committee proposal repeals the existing rescission process and substitutes the new one. It is reasonable to suppose that the President and Congress do not really need the existing process when a project comes in under budget; the President can always propose the reduction of an existing appropriation and Congress does not need a special procedure to deal with these circumstances; it is usually happy to transfer funds that have proved not to be needed to higher-priority projects.
 According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, “special income tax provisions are referred to as tax expenditures because they may be considered analogous to direct outlay programs, and the two can be considered as alternative means of accomplishing similar budget policies. Tax expenditures are similar to those direct spending programs that are available as entitlements to those who meet the statutory criteria established for the programs.” See Joint Committee on Taxation, “Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2005-2009,” January 12, 2005, p. 2. This equivalence is why former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has referred to these tax breaks as “tax entitlements.”
 Testimony of Donald B. Marron, op.cit.
 George Will, “The Vexing Qualities of a Veto,” in the Washington Post, March 16, 2006, page A23.
 Louis Fisher, “Item Veto: Budgetary Savings,” Congressional Research Service, May 26, 2005,
 Jonathan Nicholson, “Precursor to Line-Item ‘Veto’ Failed to Restrain Prior Spending, GAO Says,” Bureau of National Affairs, Daily Tax Report, March 13, 2006, p. G-6.
 Testimony of Donald B. Marron, op.cit.
 The highway bill was a cornucopia of earmarked projects. The testimony cited here was presented by Scott Lilly before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, March 16, 2006.
 During Budget Committee markup of the proposal, an amendment was offered by Rep. Neal (D-Mass) and modified by Rep. McCotter (R-Mich) expressing the “sense of Congress” that the President should not use the powers granted by the proposal to engage in horse-trading, at least with respect to legislation other than the budgetary measure in question. The amendment was accepted. But it has little meaning. It cannot be enforced and is little more than a pious wish.
 Norman Ornstein, Three Embarrassments in an All-Around Shameful Congress, American Enterprise Institute, April 5, 2006, at http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.social,pubID.24163/pub_detail.asp.