Well here we go again, Obama doing something he said he wouldn’t do. Just as Bush, Obama ignores a part of the law he disagrees with and says he’s above the law. The Constitution doesn’t give him this authority. The Constitution says Congress makes the laws and if the president disagrees with them, he can veto it……….not ignore part of it. Obama was a “Constitutional lawyer” , I’m sure he knows this, but is ignoring it because of his position as president. So hypocritical IMO.
The House rebuked President Obama for trying to ignore restrictions to international aid payments, voting overwhelmingly for an amendment forcing the administration to abide by its constraints.
House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require a Treasury Department report on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) activities. The amendment to a 2010 funding bill for the State Department and foreign operations was proposed by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), but it received broad bipartisan support.
Democrats Irked by Obama’s Signing Statement
Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s declaration in June that he doesn’t have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In a signing statement accompanying the $106 billion bill, Obama said he wouldn’t allow the legislation to interfere with his authority as president to conduct foreign policy and negotiate with other governments.
Earlier in his six-month-old administration, Obama issued a similar statement regarding provisions in a $410 billion omnibus spending bill. He also included qualifying remarks when signing legislation that established commissions to govern public lands in New York, investigate the financial crisis and celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday.
The letter was signed by Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as well as Reps. Nita Lowey and Gregory Meeks, both of New York, who chair subcommittees on those panels.
The White House said Tuesday the administration plans to implement the provisions of the bill and suggested that Obama’s signing statement was aimed more at defending the president’s executive powers than skirting the law.
“The president has also already made it clear that he will not ignore statutory obligations on the basis of policy disagreements and will reserve signing statements for legislation that raises clearly identified constitutional concerns,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
Democrats, including Obama, sharply criticized Bush as overstepping his bounds as president. In March, Obama ordered a review of Bush’s guidelines for implementing legislation.
Signing Statements Erode Constitutional Balance
Recently, the General Accounting Office studied nineteen instances where the president issued so-called “signing statements.” In such statements, the president essentially begins the process of interpreting legislation – up to and including declaring provisions unconstitutional, hence often refusing to enforce them.
The GAO study found that in nearly 1/3 of the cases studied, the administration failed to enforce the law as enacted. This approach is especially worrisome for several reasons.
First, these signing statements tend to move authority from the legislative branch to the executive, upsetting our delicate system of checks and balances. Next, these statements grant the president power not given by the Constitution, allowing him to usurp powers of the judicial branch. Finally, the idea of agencies refusing to enforce the law as enacted sets precedent for the type of run away administrative actions our constitution was expressly enacted in order to avoid. Contrary to the claims of those who raise this issue for purely political purposes, the most significant challenge to liberty presented by these statements is that they can serve to further erode our constitutional republic.
In his “Notes on Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson spoke clearly and directly about the idea of elected representatives delegating their responsibility to other branches of government, saying in no uncertain terms that since such representatives had received their authority by delegation from the people – expressly for the use as representative – the legislature had to choose to either use the authority granted or return it to the people. In other words, there is to be no delegation of authority from the representatives to the executive branch of government.
Concerns with signing statements ought to include a concern for the health of our constitutional republic, it ought not to be based upon the political battle of the day. Regardless of whether the president is named Bush or Clinton (or Obama I might add), and without respect to any particular political interest, we in Congress need to fulfill our oath of office and protect and defend the constitution and our republic. Our constituents deserve no less, and should demand it of all of us.