Robert C. Byrd: Line-Item Veto Speech XIV

(1993)

Senator Robert Byrd’s speeches before the Senate exhibited the oratorical skills of nineteenth-century statesmen, complete with flowery rhetoric and grand gestures. He recited poems; quoted historical figures, particularly the Roman statesman and orator Cicero; and frequently used parables from history and classical fairy tales to make his point. His Line-Item Veto Speech XIV, the last in a series of fourteen speeches against the line-item veto that the congressman delivered in the U.S. Senate, is replete with references to the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, the French philosopher Charles Montesquieu, the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus, the Greek historian Polybius, the English historian Edward Gibbon, and others.The line-item veto was introduced in the late nineteenth century as a way to give the president the power to cut from legislation additional spending introduced by congressmen for individual or local projects in their home states. In his speech, Byrd states that...