Senate Democratic leader Robert C. Byrd and two key committee chairmen launched a filibuster Wednesday to prevent passage of an Administration-backed measure that would give President Reagan power to veto individual items in money bills.
Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), head of the Senate Rules Committee, joined Byrd in denouncing the bill. The White House claims the measure would allow Reagan to curb spending and cut deficits.
"We need to protect the people's branch and keep the shifting of power away from the people to this President or any President," Byrd said.
'Great Importance' to Reagan
"It's a matter of great importance to the President," Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), the Senate majority leader, told reporters.
Both sides agreed that a majority of the GOP-dominated Senate would approve the bill on a straight vote, but breaking the filibuster would require 60 senators' approval, a number Dole said he hoped he could get today.
Byrd warned that the bill would give new powers to White House advisers and cautioned: "These faceless, nameless, anonymous, invisible bureaucrats in the executive branch will be picking what and what not to be vetoed. The priorities ought to be determined by a partnership between Congress and the White House."
The legislation, which would run for two years on an experimental basis, would allow the President to veto specific items in appropriations bills. The vetoes could be overturned by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House.
The Democratic-controlled House has repeatedly rejected attempts to bring a line-item veto bill up for a vote.