Trump wants Congress to do something nearly impossible to give him more power over government spending

  • President Donald Trump called on Congress to give him line-item veto power to rein in federal spending.
  • A line-item veto allows the president to block individual provisions of larger spending bills.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that line-item vetoes are unconstitutional.
  • That likely means Congress would have to amend the Constitution to give Trump what he wants.

During his begrudging signing of the $1.3 trillion omnibus funding bill, President Donald Trump demanded Congress give him more power to prevent such a large bill from making it to his desk again.

Trump was visibly irritated at provisions for social programs in the bill, which Democrats fought to include. He called on Congress to give him more power to remove pieces of spending bills.

“To prevent the omnibus situation from ever happening again, I’m calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills,” Trump said.

A line item veto would allow Trump to block certain provisions within a spending bill and force Congress to override that veto with a two-thirds vote.

But such an ask is highly unlikely – the Supreme Court ruled that such a veto is unconstitutional in 1998.

Congress gave President Bill Clinton line-item veto power as part of the Line Item Veto Act of 1996.

After Clinton began to use the veto power on various provisions on the budget in 1997, groups who benefitted from the vetoed provisions sued. For instance, Clinton vetoed a provision that gave tax breaks to farming cooperatives that bought potato processing facilities. Then he was sued by Snake River Potato Growers Inc.

The Supreme Court ruled in the case Clinton v. City of New York that the line-item veto was a violation of the Constitution because it gave the president unilateral power to amend legislation passed by Congress.

That means to get the veto, Congress would have to amend the Constitution. The last time it did so was more than 25 years ago.