I’ve been reading through The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and have gotten through about half of Article I so far. I’m really enjoying it. This passage about the Presentment Clause1 caught my attention:
Reviewing the cancellation authority provided by the Line Item Veto Act, the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. In the Court’s view, cancellation authority was similar to the power to repeal a law, because the authority could eliminate an appropriation. The exercise of cancellation authority therefore needed to conform to the Presentment Clause. Of course, if cancellation authority is similar to repealing an appropriation, then the executive’s authority under a traditional appropriation to decide how much to spend is similar to enacting an appropriation, because the executive can “legislate” the amount that should be spent. Under the Court’s reasoning, then, ordinary delegations may also logically violate the Presentment Clause, but the Court continues regularly to permit such delegations. The Court has yet to resolve this double standard whereby cancellation authority is unconstitutional even though such authority is generally narrower than ordinary delegations.
What I see, though, is not a double standard, but a single standard: growth of government should be promoted. When it comes to delegation of authority, which grows the administrative state, it should be allowed. When it comes to (in effect) a line item veto, allowing a president to slow or stop the growth of the federal budget, it must not be tolerated.
The Presentment Clause establishes that legislation must be passed by a majority in both houses, that the President can veto, and that Congress can override with 2/3 of both houses ↩