What Trump Taught Us About the Line-Item Veto

What Trump Taught Us About the Line-Item Veto

The Controversy of the Line-Item Veto

Prior to Trump the line-item veto was controversial with Presidents, both Republican and Democrat arguing for the authority. The line-item veto allows Presidents the ability to veto portions of a particular bill and this authority presents both pros and cons for the American people. Perhaps the most potent argument against the authority is President Donald Trump who attempted to usurp power and control of government both overtly and secretively. If Trump’s legacy is not a absolute argument against this Presidential authority, at the very least, it signals the need for strong restrictions.

Saving time was one of the many once considered benefits of the line-item veto Trump revealed to be false. The time-saving benefit of this veto would only work in situations where the president strikes items that are of benefit to the American people such as cutting unnecessary spending from a bill. If the president strikes portions of a bill because they impact democrats then ultimately he will create more work for congress trying to make new bills or modifications.

Another ‘so-called’ benefit of the veto was increased accountability since the President could remove wasteful sections of the bill. How this would make President Trump accountable defies reason, considering the man took no responsibility for anything including involvement with Russian’s to influence the 2016 election, and the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol which he is blamed for inciting.

Another claim of benefit is better bipartisanship. Party politics often obstructs the passage of bills into law and some argue that the line-item veto power would make the passage of bills less cumbersome when the president can remove parts to find a more agreeable bill. This benefit is nonsense unless the president is willing to reach across the aisle, but what makes this benefit truly outlandish is the fact that Trump couldn’t find agreement with his own party. Thinking that a line-item veto would stimulate bipartisanship is to believe the tail will wag the dog.

Many state governments already use line-item veto and the effectiveness of this model is often pointed to by proponents. However, this argument falls short for the reason that states enact this law differently with different forms of the authority. Presidential authority is also vastly different than state authority and giving expansive powers to a president creates a global, not just statewide effect. For instance, striking down funding for immigration issues has a larger impact than a governor striking down state funding for an immigration program.

The Supreme Court showed great wisdom striking down the Line-Item Veto Act of 1996 for being unconstitutional. The use of such authority essentially undermines the entire congressional process since the President is able to rewrite law. Perhaps this is the most compelling opposing example to the line-item veto since President Trump operated throughout his presidency showing support for racists, “making environmental and public health rollbacks,” and dismantling LGBTQ rights.


Photo by Don Shin on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. What Trump Taught Us About the Line-Item Veto Retrieved from

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