President RICHARD M. NIXON'S IMPOUNDMENT of billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for purposes which he did not approve amounted to the assertion of virtually uncontrollable power to block any federal program involving monetary expenditures. Nixon used impoundment as a weapon to alter legislative policy rather than to control the total level of government spending.
Congress, in the 1974 act, strengthened its own budgeting process, establishing new budget committees in each house and creating the Congressional Budget Office to give Congress assistance comparable to that given the President by the OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET. The act required the President to recommend to Congress, in a special message, any proposal to impound funds. Thereafter, either house might veto the impoundment proposal by resolution, thereby forcing release of the funds. If the President refused to comply, the Comptroller General was authorized to seek a court order requiring the President to spend the money. The constitutionality of the LEGISLA TIVE VETO
was thrown into...