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Bush pushes his line-item veto plan to both parties

WASHINGTON -- President Bush sought yesterday to put more push into his campaign for line-item veto authority, bringing Democratic and Republican lawmakers to the White House to show support for the budget-cutting tool.

The president gathered 13 lawmakers in the Cabinet Room, including Bush's Democratic opponent for the White House in 2004, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. During his campaign, Kerry had promoted a similar approach to the one being pushed now by Bush, a weaker version of line-item veto power than the one the Supreme Court struck down eight years ago.

''I listened carefully to some constructive suggestions from both Republicans and Democrats as to how to get a piece of legislation passed," Bush told reporters after the meeting. ''The American people expect all of us from both parties to work diligently as to how we spend their money."

Bush wants the power to strike individual items, such as hometown projects known as ''pork-barrel spending," without having to veto an entire bill. President Clinton got that wish in 1996, but two years later the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional because it allowed the president to amend laws passed by Congress.

The version Bush is advocating would not allow the president to unilaterally strike items from legislation. Instead, the president would send one or more items back to Congress as a package for an up-or-down vote. Present law permits Congress to ignore these proposed rescissions.

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