Senator Russ Feingold and the Line Item Veto

Will he or won’t he?

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s Line Item Veto legislation last week, all eyes turned to the Senate.  And for good reason.

Many of the Senators who voted for the Line Item Veto in 1995/1996 are still around.  Some may even be running for President in 2008.

In one particular case, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), insists he is a budget hawk – opposed to government waste and ballooning budgets.

Just earlier this year, Senator Feingold – along with Sens. DeMint (R-SC), Bayh (D-IN), Coburn (R-OK), and McCain (R-AZ) – sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to use his authority to "stop the abuse of the appropriations process" by "us[ing] the virtual line-item veto authority that you already have by instructing your cabinet to ignore wasteful earmarks and direct this funding toward their core missions."

Even back in 1999, Feingold noted his support for the Line Item Veto: "We vote on a big package, that’s why I wanted the president to have a line-item veto," Feingold said. "He could get rid of the questionable items."

We can only hope that Feingold not only heeds the urging of Americans who are tired of the rampant spending by Congress, but also listens to the editorials from his own state.  The Racine Journal Times has unequivocally endorsed the Line Item Veto as has the Beloit Daily News.

But will his vote on the Legislative Line Item Veto Act of 2006 match his rhetoric?  There is some cause for concern: In a June 23, 2006 article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Feingold (and Senator Kohl) "issued statements Wednesday expressing concerns about the fine print."  It would be a shame if Feingold lost his passion for the Line Item Veto somewhere between Des Moines and Concord.